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Smoking Ban Ballot Issue Sets New Precedent

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Contributions to Ohio Ballot Issue Committees
January 1-October 18, 2006

Smoking Ban Ballot Issue Sets New Precedent
The 2006 smoking ban ballot issue was historic. In forty-three Ohio ballot campaigns by petition since 1950, it marked the first example of a contested issue, requiring a 'yes' vote, in which citizen proponents had sufficient TV money and a simple message.
Citizen initiatives in the past have faced two different problems: a campaign that is difficult to explain and paucity of resources. A smoking ban is easily understood and the issue was well-defined in voters’ minds long before the campaign began. The dangers of second-hand smoke have been understood for decades. SmokeFreeOhio raised a significant amount of money (over $1.8 million). Although as of October 18 SmokeFreeOhio had not raised enough money to cover Ohio’s media markets on their own, they were greatly assisted by free media coverage prompted by the presence of Issue 4 (Smoke Less Ohio) on the ballot. The tobacco industry’s attempt to trump SmokeFreeOhio was well publicized in newspapers and on television, and certainly contributed to public awareness of the differences between Issues 4 and 5.
This helps to explain the success of the SmokeFreeOhio campaign despite the competing ballot campaign, Smoke Less Ohio (Issue 4) and this successful citizen initiative provides a template for future ballot campaigns.
For an overview of Ohio’s history of ballot initiatives visit, www.ohiocitizen.org/about/training/ballot history.html.
An analysis of successful ballot campaigns in Ohio is available at www.ohiocitizen.org/about/training/ballotconsiderations.html.

Big Money Doesn’t Win the Day

Learn and Earn/Vote Yes on Issue 3 Committee generated $19,485,685 from January 1-October 18, 2006, 28 times more than the two committees opposing Issue 3. During this same time period, Vote No to Gambling in Ohio raised only $30,371 and Vote No Casinos only $670,867. 57% voted against Issue 3.1

Smoke Less Ohio (Issue 4), a proposed constitutional amendment intended to do an end-run around SmokeFreeOhio’s legislative ban on smoking in public (Issue 5), raised three times more than SmokeFreeOhio campaign committees. Smoke Less Ohio raised $6,280,88; SmokeFreeOhio raised $1,804,478. Issue 4 received only 36% of the vote.2

Failed Campaigns Failed to Disclose

Learn and Earn/Vote Yes on Issue 3 Committee received $3,098,118 from the Ohio Legacy Fund. According to their articles of incorporation, the Ohio Legacy Fund is a non-profit created in November 2005 “to promote economic development and improve educational opportunity for residents of Ohio.” Charles J. Ruma served as the chair for both Learn and Earn and the Ohio Legacy Fund. Sponsors of the proposed amendment to the constitution stated publicly that the seven Ohio racetrack owners and two Cleveland developers contributed to the Ohio Legacy Fund. The donors to the Ohio Legacy Fund include the following racetracks: Beulah Park, River Downs, Thistledown, Lebanon Raceway, Northfield Park, Raceway Park, and Scioto Downs. However, a detailed list of contributors to the Ohio Legacy Fund was not provided in campaign finance reports.

The Smoking Ban Ballot Petition Committee received $2,604,766 and the Smoke Less Ohio Ballot Committee received $3,675,322. However, out of a combined total of $6,280,088, they received $6,001,221 from Smoke Less Ohio, Inc., thus avoiding detailed disclosure of contributors. All contributions ($2,604,766) to the Smoking Ban Ballot Petition Committee were from Smoke Less Ohio, Inc. Smoke Less Ohio, Inc. was a coalition of tobacco companies and hospitality businesses. It is not completely clear how Smoke Less Ohio, Inc. was funded, but they reported on their website that they received support from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, other tobacco companies, the Ohio Restaurants Association, and the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association

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