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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Secondhand Smoke and Ohio: Tobacco and Marijuana

 According to Anderson's Revised Code of Ohio, possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is a citable offense only, with a fine of $100. No criminal record is created by such citation. For all drug convictions, the offender's driver's license is also suspended for a period of 6 months - 5 years; however, this does not apply to minor misdemeanor violations for marijuana possession.

Under 3794.01 definition, (A) "Smoking means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other lighted smoking device for burning tobacco or any other plant. Smoking does not include the burning of incense in a religious ceremony."

 Some Fictional Fun

Let me create a fictional setting and circumstance. Say, Bobbie Stoner enters his Ohio private club, The Free Birds of America, that is currently not enforcing the smoking ban. He sits down, orders a drink, and lights up a marijuana joint. The manager, Tom Straight, observes the obvious violation of the law; however, he also observes several of his best patrons smoking cigarettes illegally in his establishment. What does he do? Does he ask Bobbie to leave, call law enforcement officers, or call the toll-free Ohio smoking ban enforcement number – 1-866-559-OHIO (6446)?

Is Tom putting himself and his business at risk for a lawsuit any way he handles this situation? After all, Tom is breaking the law himself by allowing SHS, secondhand smoke, to permeate the air. Bobbie, if arrested, could pay his fine of $100 and report the club for violation of the smoking ban. Shouldn't noncompliance, once already practiced, encourage Tom to let Bobbie's second offense slide? Who is really at fault in this situation? Under 3794.01 (A) smoking of any kind of plant is treated the same. If Tom ignores the marijuana, isn't he setting himself up for even more criminal behavior?

Silly, you say? The International Agency for Research on Cancer (an agency of the World Health Organization) determined that second-hand smoke causes cancer. The IARC reports states, "And we know that marijuana and cigarette smoke contain as many as 50 of the same cancer causing substances. For these reasons, experts believe that exposure to second-hand marijuana smoke is at least as harmful as second-hand tobacco smoke." So, the converse is true -- secondhand cigarette smoke is as harmful as second-hand tobacco smoke (without the possible contact buzz).

The Points Being:

I am NOT an advocate of smoking marijuana. The points are (1) The law is the law and must be obeyed by all of those whom it effects, and (2) Secondhand smoke is secondhand smoke, no matter whether the smoked plant is tobacco or marijuana.That is why the penalties for smoking in public in Ohio are relatively the same, whether a person is caught smoking tobacco or marijuana. 

How many private clubs condoning smoking during the ban are willing to stay open only for customers who smoke and ban those who don't smoke by the rules of club entry? None. That is because Federal and State laws make it illegal to discriminate in such a manner. The issue is about MONEY. Owners of clubs that are violating the law want to make their money and smoke it too.

I used to laugh aloud when using the entrance to Southern Ohio Medical Center meant walking by the smoking facility set aside for the public and patients. There sat visitors and patients with IV's wafting clouds of smoke upon themselves and everyone else who entered the hospital. This went on for years at a health facility. The smoking area was to the left as you entered the hospital. I joked that the bar for alcoholics should be constructed on the right beside the same main entry. Equality for addictions.

Granted, taking away someone's habitual behaviors is difficult and not without extreme sacrifice for those who lose privilege. Still, I applaud those who are taking the opportunity to use the smoking ban as impetus for ceasing their habit. They are truly caring citizens, putting other people's safety ahead of their own interests. These folks are modern-day heroes, not afraid of facing suffering to improve themselves and to take care of their fellow man.

Cigarette Alternatives

Humans have been ingesting nicotine for thousands of years. Some of the new products are smokeless. There are snus -- little pouches of tobacco that users put in their cheeks -- and lozenges. There are also new variations on ancient ways to smoke. Hookahs, for example, are an ongoing trend with teenagers and young adults.

1. Josephine Marcotty reported on snus, "The newest tobacco products to arrive in the United States are snus, often described as spitless tobacco. Snus alarm health advocates because the tobacco companies market them as a replacement for cigarettes in places where people can't smoke." Camel SNUS, which are now being test marketed in a few U.S. cities, come with the tag line "pleasure for whenever." (Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune, October 25 2007) At least, snus create no secondhand smoke.

Research shows that they have fewer carcinogens than other sorts of tobacco products but just as much nicotine, Hatsukami said. They could help people quit smoking or it could just keep smokers addicted.

2. And ABC News (June 24 2006) reported, "There's a whole new way for smokers to get a fix -- a lemon-flavored drink laced with nicotine." Nic Time, the company that makes Nic Lite, says its meant to tide over smokers when they can't light up on a plane or a bar.

But critics say it could be one more way for young people to get hooked. An 8-ounce bottle contains the same amount of nicotine as two cigarettes. Nic Lite was first available at Los Angeles International Airport for smokers who get fidgety on flights. Now, some convenience stores also stock it.

The company's Web site says it would also like to offer Nic Lite in bars, since more and more of them are smoke free. (


Bottle of NIC

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