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Ohio State Ban Damage Update

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Ohio Ban Weakening
By Pam Parker
May 1st, 2009
Senator Schuler yesterday introduced SB120 to redefine private clubs, outdoor patios and family-owned businesses for the purpose of exemptions from the smoking ban.
128th General Assembly Regular Session 2009-2010
S.B. No. 120
Senator Schuler
Cosponsors: Senators Cates, Grendell, Schaffer, Seitz
To amend sections 3794.01 and 3794.03 of the Revised Code regarding exemptions from the smoking ban.
Read More
We need everyone’s help in calling, writing and putting pressure on the legislators.
Can we count on your support?

Lawmaker wants smoking ban changes
Second-hand smoke is not the target, says Schuler
March 2, 2009
By JOHN JARVIS, The Marion Star
MARION – Whether the statewide smoking ban remains intact may depend on one senator’s plans to reintroduce legislation that would add private clubs as an exemption and expand exemption for family-owned businesses.
Similar legislation, Senate Bill 346, which would have expanded the types of entities that would be exempt from the ban on indoor smoking in places of employment and other public places, died last year in the Ohio General Assembly.
But Sen. Robert Schuler, R-Sycamore Township where Cincinnati is located, sponsor of the bill, said he plans to re-introduce similar legislation in 2009.
Health officials oppose such efforts, saying the law reduces the threat of what they say is deadly secondhand smoke to employees and others in public places. The law applies to more than 280,000 establishments in the state and includes vehicles used for work.
Senate Bill 346 “was based on what was on the ballot as far as the language, which exempted private clubs and family-owned businesses,” Schuler said. “The problem was ‘family-owned business’ is such a wide term it really doesn’t reflect what the general public wants or what the legislation would want. We’ll probably wind up with something more restrictive.”
He said he expects to craft a bill that aims to protect the “corner tavern. Those are the people that had losses in business.”
Schuler said health officials’ remarks that the ban aims to eliminate secondhand smoke in public places aren’t candid.
“Health officials if they’re candid with you, and they’ve told me, some of them the goal is to make it difficult for smokers because they want to eradicate smoking,” he said.
Adding that few would argue that smoking isn’t unhealthy, he said, “If that’s what they want, then they should outlaw smoking. The idea of not having a safe level of secondhand smoke is ludicrous.” He said air quality is measured for unsafe levels of other substances, and secondhand smoke should be measured for safe levels, as well.
He said ban supporters’ contentions the objective of the law is to eliminate secondhand smoke is a “red herring” and a false motive meant to disguise their true intention that they oppose smoking altogether.
Schuler said he hopes to introduce the new legislation within a month “because the last time we got it introduced too late.”
The ban probably has been effective in reducing the number of people who smoke in public places, said State Rep. Dave Burke, R-83rd District, who was elected last November.
Burke said he probably would not support additional exemptions to the ban like those proposed by Schuler because voters supported the statewide ban, but expressed concern that the law limits “individual rights for the sake of the common good.”
“Obviously, smoking is an unhealthy habit,” he said. “I guess the counterbalance for me is individual property rights and freedom of choice. I own a drug store. I don’t want people smoking in my drug store, but that’s my choice because I own the drug store. … But if a bar owner or restaurant owns that property, and it’s not a corporate policy or if you own the property and you own the business and you want people smoking in there, as ill-advised healthwise as smoking is, it still is a legal activity. The real topic is outlawing tobacco and nicotine-containing products if smoking is that unhealthy, not that I would support that. But to me that’s a much more viable argument than individual property rights and performing a legal activity on your own property.”
State Rep. Jeff McClain, R-82nd District, said the ban is protecting people that don’t smoke.
“There’s all kinds of studies that have been done about secondhand smoke,” McClain said. He said U.S. residents believe they have basic freedoms as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others, “and this does.”
He said he hasn’t seen Schuler’s proposal, but would be willing to look at it. He said private clubs might be a “different situation,” where the people exposed to any secondhand smoke are aware the secondhand smoke is present and choose to visit the club anyway.
“You look at private clubs, whether it’s created for that specific purpose, or the fraternal clubs it’s a different situation, because we can’t protect everybody from everything,” he said.
Dr. Frederick Winegarner, Marion city health commissioner, said the purpose of the law is to protect employees and customers from deadly secondhand smoke. The position of a number of health officials is that employers allowing smoking in their establishments limits the number of employment opportunities.
A spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society, which supports the ban, said the organization is not happy with lawmakers’ attempts to change the law, which won passage with approximately 59 percent of the vote. Ana Titus cited a survey conducted by the ACS that showed almost 80 percent of those surveyed support the law, and 96 percent of voters were confident they knew what they were voting for.
“When this was passed, it was passed with the understanding that it would be enforced across the board,” Titus said. “It really is saddening that there are places out there that are not complying. But I don’t think that justifies overturning the rule of the voters by any means. Public health needs to be the priority here, and the health of the citizens needs to remain above all of this.”

Smoking law ‘should be amended’
Friday, December 05, 2008
Fix this deceptive bad law. It’s interesting that all the other ballot initiatives in 2006 were clear, concise and non-deceptive but only Issue 5 chose to include wording for exemptions they never intended to honor. That’s “bait and switch” and that’s voter fraud.
You can say what you want and spin these articles any way you want. The bottom line is the exemptions were listed and people read the ballot language at the polls and voted accordingly.
So SmokeFree Ohio did a survey and 80 percent support the law? Is that the same 600 people they survey every time they do a survey? I wonder how many of the 600 people own a family-owned bar or mom-and-pop restaurant who have either already closed their doors or are depleting their savings to stay open?
What all of you fail to realize is that the loss of income to these places was immediate and devastating. Because all of you who never go to bars or clubs, who rent Blockbuster videos and sit home night after night, made a decision that devastated an entire industry in this state. Now that you’ve got smoke-free bars and clubs to go to, you don’t go! You never did! And the smokers quit going …
I have an idea. Let’s allow bar owners, family restaurants and private clubs to decide whether or not Honda stays open, or GM, or any other business in which they have no invested interest.
Yes, this law should be amended. It was trickery in the first place that impacted an entire industry. Put up signs. Patronize or don’t patronize a place. Better yet, don’t assume hospitality employees want your protection. No one asked them. There is a poll for you to conduct, SmokeFree Ohio.
Pam Parker
Grove City, Ohio
Regarding the Friday, December 05, 2008  Smoking law  should be amended  Letter to the editor, Ms Parker is correct, the smoking ban is destroying family owned businesses of all types. The owners have helplessly fallen victim  to smoke free Ohio who must not have any respect for owners who invested their own money, time, and labor in what is supposed to be the American dream.
The actions of smoke free Ohio makes it quite clear that they have no respect for our constitution which guarantees the private property business owners the supreme right to earn their families living on their own property.  That puts every citizen of Ohio at risk, property rights is the foundation of our basic rights.  What group will form a mob to rule your own property and life?
There are no safe smoking bans, they  ignore  our constitution which is  the supreme law of this great nation. Smoking bans destroy the very foundation of our life, liberty, and joy of property ownership. Our founding fathers must surely weep as our constitution goes up in flames.
Shame on Smoke free Ohio and the American Cancer Society for fanning the flames.No amount of funding for you to push smoking cessation products is worth our loss.

Allegations of Voter Fraud in Ohio
December 2, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Ohio voters went to their polling places to cast their votes in November, 2006 confident that their vote would count and confident that what they read when they voted would be enacted into law. Several ballot initiatives appeared on that day. Issue 2 was the Minimum Wage ballot initiative, described in
1039 words on the ballot. Issue 5, the Ohio smoking ban ballot initiative, was described in 202 words. To refresh the readers’ memories, we’ve included that actual ballot as it appeared at the polls.
Voters approved Issue 5 based on the ballot language. SmokeFree Ohio wants us to believe the people who voted “YES” to exemptions really meant “NO”. Voters instead got this law:
    — NO exemptions for family owned and operated businesses
    — NO exemptions for private clubs
    — Exemptions for outdoor patios with restrictions
    — Smoking a cigarette in a prohibited area is not a violation of the law
According to a public records request dated August 4, 2008, not one individual has been fined in the State of Ohio for smoking. In fact according to Lance Himes, Assistant Council for the Ohio Department of Health, “merely smoking in one of these areas does not constitute a violation.”
If the Secretary of State is responsible for ensuring all elections are free, fair, open and honest, who is responsible for ensuring that the law voters approved is the law the voters ended up getting? The Legislature is. Issue 5 was nothing more than a “bait and switch”
tactic. The Ohio Attorney General pursues criminal charges against “bait and switch” companies doing business in Ohio. “Why are ballot initiatives not guarded even more closely? If a vote is not sacred, then what is? How is this not voter fraud?” asks Debi Kistner, Opponents of Ohio Bans. “Nothing about Issue 5 was honest or fair.”
Voters were told there would be exemptions for family owned businesses, private clubs and outdoor patios. We know now that it was an illusion, a shell game. The Director for the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Alvin Jackson, claimed space was an issue and that apparently is why “with no employees” and “not open to the public” qualifying statements were left off the ballot initiative. Eight words would have brought the wording to 210 words, quite short of Issue 2’s 1039 words. If space was an issue, why print these exemptions at all? If the exemptions weren’t to exist, that could have saved an additional 12 words and a lot of confusion. Why were the exemptions listed? To get YES votes.
SmokeFree Ohio told voters there was “no economic harm to businesses from smoke-free policies”. Opponents of Ohio Bans proved from public records requests that the first year of the ban liquor permit holders lost a potential of 67.44 million dollars in sales, which does not include lost beer sales, vending (pool tables, juke boxes), etc. That loss alone equates to over 4 million dollars in lost sales and use taxes for the State of Ohio. Ohio’s Gongwer Legislative News Service dated August 15, 2008 reported the highest unemployment figures since 1992 with Hospitality and Leisure in the #1 spot beating Trade, Utilities and Transportation combined. Tobacco control advocates think if they keep repeating “there is no economic harm from smoking bans” that it will make it so. It does not! The bottom line is people are now choosing to drink (and smoke) at home, as the same public records request showed with the increase of over 1.3 million more bottles of liquor sold for home consumption in 2007 over what was sold in 2006.
Voters were told the Department of Health would enforce the ban. Reread the ballot language. Not only have they laid the enforcement responsibilities on business owners, which was not on the ballot, they’ve have now declared that smoking is not a violation of the law.
However, a business owner not telling a smoker to put the cigarette out is a violation. This makes no sense. If a smoker is doing nothing wrong legally, then why is a business owner required to say anything? “It’s like legally requiring a bank manager to inform robbers while a robbery is in progress that robbing the bank is against the law and then coming after the manager if he doesn’t while absolving the robbers of any crime,” said Pam Parker, Opponents of Ohio Bans.
Senate Bill 346 has been introduced to correct the bait and switch tactics by SmokeFree Ohio. But time is running out. At the rate hospitality businesses are closing, there won’t be many left to save.
Most are barely hanging on. One bar owner called to say her 80 year old father-in-law is about to lose his home that he borrowed against to keep their 23 year bar business open. With DHL closing and Ohio running out of unemployment funding, can Ohio also afford to bailout those who lose their jobs from family owned businesses because of apparent voter fraud?
Where is the bailout for the business owners who have invested years of hard work and are now depleting their savings? “SB346 shouldn’t be about politics,” said Parker. “It’s about fixing a bad law based on apparent fraudulent language. It’s about saving Ohio jobs, family owned businesses and private clubs.”
The only similarity between what voters read when they voted and the law we currently have are the words “to enact Chapter 3794 of the Ohio Revised Code”.
Related Web site:
SOURCE Opponents of Ohio Bans

Lobbyist argued two sides of issue
November 24, 2008
In last Sunday’s Dispatch article “Smoking-ban changes opposed by both sides,” Richard Mason, the Ohio Restaurant Association’s chief lobbyist, made conflicting comments: “We lost the fight in 2006. We didn’t like the proposal, but now we want a level playing field. The legislation would allow one member on one side of the street to allow smoking, but the member on the other side couldn’t.”
Then he referred to rhetoric in 2006 that the smoking ban would hurt businesses but that “some of that was probably blown out of proportion. Very few of my members are complaining about it.”
Which is it? Mason claimed smoking bans don’t hurt business, but in the same breath whined that it’s not fair if some places permit smoking. Obviously, there is economic harm to businesses in a ban. He proved the point by stating that venues allowing smoking would be at an advantage financially.
If very few of his businesses are complaining, then what’s the problem? The problem is the businesses he represents are large-chain restaurants, not the small mom-and-pop places he just threw under the bus. I’m boycotting franchises.
Grove City

 This is EXTREMELY important and we need EVERYONE WE CAN GET to help!!!
October 25, 2008
Some of you know me well, others only briefly.  But we all have one thing in common.  We know how oppressive Ohio’s smoking ban is to family owned businesses, private clubs, to our liberties and freedom.
I am one of the founding members of Opponents of Ohio Bans.  For the last 16 months, we’ve worked extremely hard to get the exemptions to Ohio’s smoking ban that voters voted for when they said “YES” to Issue 5 in November, 2006.
Through coordinated efforts with the Buckeye Liquor Permit Holders Association, Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, Ohio Coin Machine Association, Heartland Institute and many, many others too numerous to list (including some wonderful Ohio senators), we now have SB346 that has been introduced in the Senate.  SB346 seeks to include family owned and operated businesses, private clubs and outdoor patios as exemptions, as the law clearly stated would be.  We’ve issued several press releases and, in a coordinated effort with Ban the Ban Wisconsin, Citizens Freedom Alliance and Hawaii Smokers Alliance, have filed four very valid complaints based on very different areas of scientific misconduct against Ex-Surgeon General Carmona’s 2006 Report, upon which Issue 5 was solely based:
These complaints have been received by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Research Integrity, the agency whose responsibility it is to make sure what we’re told is “science” is indeed, valid science, not based on political agendas.
This is where we need your help. 
Tuesday, November 4th is Election Day.  Attached to this email is a list of each and every current Ohio Senator and State Representative.  It details those whose terms are up, who are eligible to run for another term, who is running, who their opponents are and whether they support SB346.  We need each and every single legislator called between now and Election Day.  Those who support SB346, we need to thank! 
Those who have not committed, we need to ask that they support Senate Bill 346.  If any of you:
• own a business that the ban has hurt
• know someone who owns a business the ban has hurt
• patronize a place where the ban has hurt
• refuse TO patronize Ohio businesses because the do NO accommodate you (your smoking preferences)
• patronize a private club that has been hurt by the ban
Please tell them!!!  Any personal stories you can relate will validate the damage this devastating, draconian ban has done to Ohio families and private clubs.  Also, ask the State Representatives if a companion bill were introduced in the House, would they support it?
We need them to realize how they vote on SB346 when they come back after elections will determine how you vote!!  When you call your OWN senator or state rep, let them know you are one of their constituents.
It might even be best if you composed what you want to say before you make your calls. 
PLEASE!!  I realize this is a lot to ask.  But it IS necessary and we desperately need your help.
Associations, organizations, clubs, please forward this email to your members or print off the list of legislators and ask your members to call, too.  Please also forward this email to everyone in your email lists who you know would approve of these exemptions who could also help make calls.
Thank you SO much for agreeing to help us. 
If you have any questions, please call me at 614-565-6560 or email me at the address where the email originated.  For suggestions on what issues you might include, just bounce around our website and get ideas!!
Again, thanks for your help
Pam Parker
Co-founder of
Opponents of Ohio Bans
P.O. Box 402
Grove City, OH 43123

October 29, 2008
Allies in the Grand Struggle,
     Do not forget that the fate of Ohio hangs in the balance.  Note this
interesting e-mail I received from a Senator of the Buckeye state who is on
OUR side.  As evidenced by his message, the Anti-smoking Axis is feverishly
trying to hold the blanket ban in Ohio.
Jeremy Richards, Ph.D.
Dear Dr. Richards,
     Amen to your email, but it’s actually worse than you say because those of us like me who cosponsored Senate Bill 346 believe we are actually being quite consistent with what the voters voted for — they voted for ballot language that created a smoking ban but specifically exempted private clubs and family owned businesses!
     We need more like you to write their Senators –especially those who are not Senate Bill 346 cosponsors — because the “axis” is gaining up, opposition form letters through their well-financed website operations (push a button, send a form email).
William J. Seitz

Buckeye Lake Truck Stop closing Sunday
By Scott Rawdon
June 21, 2008
BUCKEYE LAKE – It’s the end of an era.
The Buckeye Lake Truck Stop, a local institution for more than 35 years, is closing its doors Sunday at 7 p.m. Manager Charlie Moore said the garage will remain open, but otherwise, it’s closing.
“You just can’t make money at this any more, that’s all,” said Moore. He said many factors contributed to the closure, not the least of which are soaring fuel prices and a recent smoking ban. Everything hit him at once.
Attendant Susan Miller, a 14- year Buckeye Lake Truck Stop employee, said the closure is particularly unfair to Moore, who always went out of his way to help anyone who needed it and regularly contributed to local organizations like the Firebelles, the Tri-County Dive Team, the Buckeye Lake police and firedepartments, and local sports teams.
It’s very common, said Miller, for Moore to offer food and even temporary work to a homeless person in need. Miller said Moore has volunteered fuel and mechanical repairs to truckers to help them back on the road. “He’s done everything for everybody,” she said. “He never turned down anyone for anything.”
Moore, while shy about discussing his accomplishments, acknowledged, “We’ll never turn anyone away. We’ve tried to help them out.” His career began at the Sunset Truck Stop on US 40 near Zanesville at Mt. Sterling Hill. When I-70 was built, Moore moved his operation to Buckeye Lake, where there was very little competition at the time. This changed as major truck stops bloomed at the I-70 and Ohio 37 intersection little more than a mile to the west. But, the Buckeye Lake Truck Stop persevered although the other truck stops offered national fuel brands and credit cards.
Moore said his resilient truck stop weathered the fuel crisis of the 1970s and several trucking strikes, however, the current economy finally proved too much to conquer. “This is the roughest I’ve ever seen it,” he said.
Moore will continue to work with Englefield Oil, who owns the Buckeye Lake Truck Stop, at various duties until he retires in a few years. “Englefield’sa good company,” he said. Moore basically developed the truck stop from its beginning and he’ll definitely miss it.
Miller said the Buckeye Lake community will miss Moore, too. “If there were more people like him,” she said, “the world would be a better place.”

Few fines for smoking
Health departments don’t have the staff to keep up
May 2, 2005
In the past year, Bob Casey has received more than 90 complaints about smokers lighting up in his two Maloney’s Pub neighborhood bars in Anderson and Delhi townships. And he’s had at least three different policies about smoking in his bars.
After Ohio began enforcing a voter-approved ban on smoking May 3, 2007, Casey complied.
But after seeing business drop, he relented, telling his staff to let smoking happen inside if customers were adamant about it.
“All my competitors were letting customers smoke. So we did, too,” he says.
A few complaints and a couple of fines later, Casey changed his mind again. Now smokers retreat to a patio when they need a cigarette.
“My customers – probably 60 percent are smokers,” Casey says.
Casey’s see-sawing shows the struggle that bar owners are having complying with the law. The Ohio Smoke-free Workplace law passed in November 2006 with 58.3 percent of the vote, aimed at keeping smoking out of workplaces. But the law also banned smoking in any enclosed public place, and now liquor-license owners in Ohio blame the ban on smoking for swooning sales and declining profits. They say people are finding other places to smoke, such as Northern Kentucky.
And as bar owners struggle with whether to enforce the ban, an Enquirer analysis of data from the Ohio Department of Health found that the odds of a complaint becoming a fine are about 1 in 50.
That’s because local health departments, charged with enforcing the law, have not been able to hire extra staff or devote extra resources to the effort.
When voters passed the ban, Ohio became one of 16 states to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other enclosed public spaces. In the 12 months since the state began enforcement, Ohio has seen about 30,000 complaints and 644 fines.
Bars and casinos are the businesses that feel the biggest economic impact from smoking bans because smokers tend to frequent them, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
While the exact impact on bar revenues across Ohio from the smoking ban is difficult to assess – given the distortion caused by an economic downturn since the ban was enacted – vending machine revenues from jukeboxes and electronic games have dropped like a rock.
Fewer people drinking in local taverns means fewer people spending fewer dollars on games and music, said Bill Westerhaus, president of Pioneer Vending, which employs 50 and is based in Cheviot.
“Our revenues are down 30 percent,” he said. “We’ve had people leave their jobs and not replaced them. We have had to absorb it.”
At Peg’s Pub in Evendale, owner Lynn Pitzer III has notified his landlord that he plans to reduce the amount of space he’s going to rent next year by half – to 6,000 square feet.
“When Ohio passed that law, they took a third of the value of my bar away,” Pitzer said. “They’ve got to change that law.”
That’s just what Patrick Carroll, president of the Buckeye Liquor Permit Holders Association, plans to try. Carroll says petitions are being circulated to compel a new vote on the measure that if passed will ban smoking in restaurants but not in neighborhood bars that do not serve food.
“We’ll know in mid-May when permits come up for renewal, but I think we’re going to lose maybe 280 bars in Hamilton County that just can’t afford to stay in business,” Carroll says. That would be about 10 percent of the county’s total liquor licenses.
Hamilton County health officials spent about $71 to pursue each of the 592 investigations in 2007, officials said.
The cost includes overtime, transportation and administration.
Enforcement has been spotty in part because most health departments have limited staff and other duties.
“We didn’t add staff. Before the smoking ban, we were doing things with our time that we can’t do any longer,” said Jeff Agnew, chief of environment services for the Butler County Health Department. “It’s hurting other programs.”
He said that early on, bars knew about the health department’s hours of operations and banned smoking during the daytime.
“We realized that in order for us to enforce it, we’d have to change hours of doing inspections,” Agnew said.
Luke Jacobs, environmental health supervisor for Hamilton County Public Health, says every complaint is investigated, a time-intensive effort.
“It’s a law, and we think it’s important that employees not be exposed to secondhand smoke,” he said.
Shelly Kiser, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association of Ohio, is dubious about reports of falling bar revenues and said she thinks that supporters have been told in an orchestrated campaign to say their receipts are off 30 percent.
“The bar and restaurant business is extraordinarily volatile,” she says, adding that she does not think that the law has lowered liquor sales, hurt the restaurant business or slammed the state economy.
“I don’t want to call a person a liar about their business,” she says. “But there have been hundreds and hundreds of economic impact studies in every city and state on this issue. They’ve found the exact same thing: These laws do not hurt the economy or liquor sales.”
Troy Teepe, owner of Win Place or Show in West Chester, says he has some news for Kiser.
His restaurant, which seats 220 and forces people to smoke outside, has seen revenues fall in 2007 by more than $100,000 as smokers found someplace else to drink. He has had to build a deck outside to keep his client base.
“It was the first decrease in eight or nine years,” he says. “It’s had a serious effect. Looking back from last year at this same time, we are probably off by 25 percent.”
Teepe plans to build an outdoor area, which will become his restaurant’s smoking section.
The Ohio Division of Liquor Control reports that 1,206 liquor permit holders have asked for permission to expand in 2007, double the year before.
“Obviously, that had a great deal to do with businesses adapting to the smoking ban,” says Matt Mullins, spokesman for the division.
While a slowing economy and rising gas prices have hit the wallets of his core customers, another factor can’t be dismissed when Teepe considers the declining revenues.
“A lot of bars are still not obeying the law,” Teepe says. “There’s a handful of bars within 5 miles where people can go and smoke.
“Until everybody complies, this law is not going to work.”

Are house concerts for you?
April 22nd, 2007
House concerts are one of the most important trends in independent music today. Musicians across the country are discovering a great way to connect with new audiences – performing in people’s homes.
There’s just something about house concerts. The intimacy really allows a deeper connection to the audience, and that connection often leads to strong merchandise sales and lifelong fans.
Can you perform: – as a solo, duo, or small trio? – 60-90 minutes of mostly original material? – with little or no amplification? – for donations ($8-15/person) from those who attend?
The house concert community is currently made up of hundreds of very loosely affiliated folk and acoustic music fans. They are generally interested in:
– folk and contemporary folk
– singer-songwriter
– bluegrass
– country/americana
– and some celtic.
If you perform rap, hard rock, cover tunes, or electronic music, you won’t find much interest from house concert presenters at this time.
Also, many of the current house concert hosts prefer to book acts they’ve seen before. They often go to music festivals, but some will check out acts when they play nearby clubs. Since most presenters only book 2 to 10 shows per year (it’s a hobby, not a job), many stay booked pretty far in advance.
But here are some positive trends…
1. More people discover house concerts every day. House concerts are becoming a popular way to see live music, and a great source of new fans for artists.
2. Through the internet, it is now easier than ever before for artists and concert hosts to find each other.
3. Artists are actively growing the market. Every time they play a house concert, they have a good chance to turn an interested fan into a house concert host. This new host might then enjoy the experience so much that he starts booking other artists.
4. The growing house concert community will open up to different kinds of artists. Why not poets, children’s performers, instrumental or flamenco guitar? Any act that can fit into a living room might eventually find a fan here.
So if you are looking for an alternative to bars, noisy cafes, and other venues which provide too many distractions (TVs over the artists heads!), house concerts might be a great new source of gigs to pursue.
How to get started:
1. Learn all you can about house concerts – how to put them on, what’s expected, what’s optional, and how many opportunities currently exist in your region.
Here are some great, fun to read articles: by Bob Bassin by TR Ritchie
2. Start with your fans – these are the best opportunity an artist has to get bookings quickly, and have them well attended so you can make a nice profit. Remind them every time you send out emails that you are now doing “house concerts” and include a link to an article/site where they can get more information.
3. Host one yourself! If your living quarters aren’t adequate, find a friend, family member, or neighbor to put one on. If you aren’t ready to do a full 60-90 minute show, consider booking an artist you really admire, and book yourself as the opening act!
If you are a talented performer who is comfortable being close to the crowd, telling stories between songs, and hanging out with new fans, you owe it to yourself to explore these opportunities.

Bars slow to snuff smoking
15 county establishments cited in law’s 9 months
February 3, 2008
A woman takes a puff from a cigarette while sitting at the bar at Zeno’s, 384 W. 3rd Ave. The bar has been cited three times for allowing smoking.
If no one had ever complained about smoking at the Oakland Park Bar & Grill, city health inspectors wouldn’t have dropped in Thursday night.
But someone had reported the North Linden bar, so investigators walked inside and saw six patrons — half the clientele — puffing away as if Ohio’s public smoking ban didn’t exist.
Columbus health investigator Calvin Collins politely introduced himself to the bartender and advised her to expect a warning letter within 30 days. Because it was the bar’s first offense under the new state law, the owners won’t be fined, Collins said.
And then he left. No one was told to “cancel the cancer stick” or finish smoking in the parking lot, where outdoor temperatures straddled the freezing point.
“We can’t make them stop,” Collins said. “We’re not police.
“But if we continue to get complaints about them, we’ll return.”
And sometimes they do return. But because inspectors have to catch someone with a lighted cigarette, the fines are few. In fact, since the state smoking ban went into effect last spring, only 1 percent of complaints have resulted in a fine. During six stops made around town Thursday night, Collins and other investigators found violations at two bars.
One was the Oakland Park Bar & Grill, 1427 Oakland Park Ave. Collins said he had cited the business once before, but that was under the old Columbus smoking ban, which was nullified by the state law.
The other on Thursday was Brew-Stirs, 6118 Busch Blvd., at the Continent. The bar will receive a warning letter because the tent over its patio where smoking was permitted had two walls too many to meet the state’s definition of “outdoors,” Collins said.
But unlike the Oakland Park Bar, no one was smoking indoors, as the complaint had alleged.
Since the statewide ban took effect nine months ago today, the Columbus and Franklin County health departments have received 1,280 complaints about smokers lighting up in offices and businesses.
But so far, only 15 establishments have been assessed fines — most of the $100 variety for being caught twice. And of the 15, only two neighborhood bars — Zeno’s in Victorian Village and the Groveport Lounge in Groveport — have received $500 fines for a third citation.
It’s not unusual that the total of 1,280 complaints include some for the same establishments.
“There might be a bar where only one outsider doesn’t like the smoke. That one person can generate a lot of calls,” said John Richter of Columbus Public Health.
Also, investigators must wait at least 30 days to return to a bar unless they get a separate complaint about it. That gives the business a month to appeal the citation.
During the day, Collins visits offices; nights are saved for bars, restaurants and hotels.
At Zeno’s, 384 W. 3rd Ave., or the Groveport Lounge, 296 Main St., Groveport, the next violation, which would be either establishment’s fourth, would cost the owner an additional $1,000.
Smoking appeared to be welcome inside both businesses in recent weeks. At the Groveport Lounge, a truck driver quickly put out his cigarette and waved at the fumes in the air when a stranger walked in around midnight. Others walked out to the parking lot to smoke.
Groveport Lounge owner Phil Riner said he sometimes has to make an “economic decision” to let his regulars smoke or risk losing all of his business.
“If I operated by state law, I’d really be killed,” Riner said.
Inside Zeno’s last week, three men hunched side-by-side on barstools, puffing away on a cigar, a pipe and a cigarette. A fourth man smoked a cigarette while he played a video arcade game.
Calls to Zeno’s owner Dick Allen last week weren’t returned.
As of last week, Columbus Public Health had fielded 825 complaints since May, resulting in fines against eight bars and one private club, officials said.
The Franklin County Health Department had fielded 455 complaints in the same period, spokeswoman Mitzi Kline said. Those investigations resulted in fines for four bars and two VFW posts through January.
The law makes no sense to at least one patron who wouldn’t give his name recently at the Stop 40 Lounge in Whitehall, especially when temperatures drop into single digits and smokers huddle outside.
“If someone dies of pneumonia, can we sue?”

Call for Congressional Hearing
Very Dangerous Time for our Country 
November 21, 2007
I apologize for the categories I picked, as I was required to select at least one. RIGHTS did not make the list.
As a business owner of a bar, member of the Ohio Smokers Rights Group and officer of a Liquor Permit Holder Association, I am calling for a Congressional Hearing into what has become the biggest lie perpetrated on the American People “Cancer Causing SHS”. As a business owner, my Property Rights, guaranteed under the Constitution, have been stripped. When we can no longer make decisions that impact our businesses, then we have lost our businesses. Ohio, as well as other states of the U.S. and countries world-wide, has imposed a smoking ban brought about by the public panic based on the lies of the Surgeon General, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association. These studies are a joke, yet they are touted as “absolute proof” of a risk to those around cigarette smoke.
If Congress and the Senate can conduct hearings into Communist actors/directors in the 1940s and 1950s, then I call for hearings into the junk that has been passed off as science. If I, as a business owner, can lose my business and my right to smoke in a business and building purchased by my husband and me, then at the very least, these “reports” and “studies” can be scrutinized by experts NOT PAID by the RWJ Foundation, ACS, AHA, etc. Bars are closing at a rapid rate. Bar owners are uniting. Smokers Rights Groups are uniting. We want our RIGHTS back. We want OUR BUSINESSES returned to us.
Instead of patrons going to an ADULT venue to smoke and imbibe, where people have the maturity and sense to decide to enter a smoking establishment, they now GO HOME to do both, AROUND THE FAMILY. Once the ACS, and all the other “antis” figure this out (quite simply by looking at the closures of bars), they will be pushing for legislation to MANDATE WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT DO IN YOUR OWN HOME.
This is a very dangerous time for our country. These groups are ramping up to do away with tobacco totally. Whether you like cigarettes or not has no bearing on this. Like the adage, “when they came for the Jews, I said nothing because I am not a Jew”. What will others be giving up? Once these powerful groups push for no tobacco, they’re going for alcohol (their initiative by 2009). And obesity it on their plate (no pun intended) to regulate, too. We have to stop them. The American People take comfort in their home being their castle….as did business owners until that right was taken away. BEWARE American People. They come for YOU, TOO!
The way to end this is to give us back our property rights. The Constitution is being ignored and trampled. Why no court can recognize what is purely and simply EMINENT DOMAIN renders me speechless. If our property rights mean so little to the Government of this country, then we demand a hearing into these reports. We’re accepting the word of the people who stand to profit from alternative tobacco solutions? Are we crazy? It’s like having a judge preside over case who stands to profit by the sale of the seized possessions.
As previously stated, bar owners are organizing. Rights groups are organizing. Smokers are NOT going away, however many business owners are. They’re losing everything after investing their life savings into their “American Dream” (Nightmare).
There has been an official complaint filed with the Office of Research Integrity over the junk reported in the Surgeon General Report by Forces, International, a non-profit group, educational organization (link provided below). THEY don’t stand to profit like the funders of the studies. We must stop the LIES. We demand that truth prevail and our rights be restored. What bogus “studies” will they next report on and rights will we next lose?
We DESERVE an investigation.

Smoking ban leaves some bars smoldering
A few ignore state’s six-month-old law rather than lose customers. Officials continue to issue fines

By Tracy Wheeler Beacon Journal medical writer
Nov 18, 2007

In the first month of Ohio’s public smoking ban, the little bar in a blue-collar Summit County neighborhood lost $1,000.

The reason was obvious: The bar’s owner followed the law, telling customers they couldn’t smoke. The bar’s competitors didn’t, and some even ”rented” ashtrays to customers, with the money going into a kitty to defray any smoking-violation fines.

The bar-hopping customers stopped hopping into the little bar. And the regulars, although they kept coming, were buying fewer drinks.

”They’d spend 20 minutes at the bar drinking a beer, then 10 minutes outside smoking,” said the owner, who spoke anonymously to protect himself from health department inspectors. ”Instead of drinking five or six beers, they were drinking one or two.”

After losing a grand in May, the bar owner changed course in June.

”I figured if that pace kept up,” he said, ”I’d be out of business before anyone else. So I said, what I’ll do is I’ll let them smoke until we get caught. The next month, instead of losing $1,000, we made $2,500 more.”

And he hasn’t been caught.

”I had to make a decision,” he said. ”I just decided to break the law and be done with it. It’s like speeding on the highway — you’re breaking the law, but until you get caught, you’re going to keep speeding, I guess.”

Enforcing law

In that analogy, Terry Tuttle and Cheri Christ are state troopers for the Akron area.

It’s their job to enforce the ban, which was approved by Ohio voters in November 2006. The issue outlawed indoor smoking in virtually all public places, including restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, and, for now — depending on court appeals — private clubs such as American Legion and VFW halls.

Tuttle and Christ have bad news for the scofflaws: If you’re caught and you fail to comply with the law, you will be fined. After an initial warning, a second violation brings a $100 fine, which grows to $500 for a third violation, $1,500 for a fourth, and $2,500 for fifth and subsequent violations.

And the fines could go higher.

”If they’re flagrant and admitting that they’re allowing (smoking), basically, we can double the fines,” said Tuttle, environmental health supervisor for the Summit County Health Department. ”We have the authority to do that.”

Business owners also could find themselves facing nuisance charges before the health board, which could lead to more fines or possibly even closure.

Since local health departments began enforcing the ban on May 3, the Ohio Department of Health has logged 17,900 complaints — an average of about 2,750 a month, or 92 a day.

Tuttle and Christ, the sanitarian supervisor for the Akron Health Department, said most businesses are complying with the smoking ban.

The state department’s hot line — 1-866-559-6446 (OHIO) — has logged 1,077 complaints in Summit County. That number, though, is deceptive because most are multiple complaints against the same establishments.

”For the most part, it was a learning curve, and once (business owners) get our letter and see we’re serious about this, for the most part, they have tried to comply,” Christ said.

Top violator

In Akron, Corky’s Thomastown Cafe on South Arlington Street has drawn the most complaints: 37.

Owner Billy McFrye is facing a $100 fine, on top of a loss of customers.

”People aren’t coming out,” he said. ”I’ve got numbers from last year to this year, and you can see it. It’s unreal. It’s gross. It’s down at least 25 percent.”

He remembers hearing the argument that nonsmokers would come out to take the place of smokers who stay home. But that hasn’t happened at Corky’s.

”Nonsmokers don’t go out anyway,” McFrye said. ”They’re the cheapest people breathing air. I’ve been in business 23 years, and I know there’s nothing cheaper than a nonsmoker. I’m really upset with it. I wish the people who voted for it would get cancer, that’s how pissed I am about it.”

McFrye built a patio for smokers so they could go outside and smoke without having to deal with rain, wind and snow. The health department, however, told him he couldn’t allow smoking on the patio because the patio’s roof and walls make it an enclosed space — and the law prohibits smoking in enclosed public spaces.

McFrye has an attorney fighting his fine and the health department’s ruling on the patio. In the meantime, he’s going to continue to let customers light up.

”I’ve got the signs up and ask them not to,” he said, ”but I’m not going to fight with anyone over smoking.”

Christ has heard that before.

”I’ve had owners tell me that as long as they’re open, they’re going to allow their customers to smoke,” she said. ”The next fine is $500. That might have a little bearing on that decision.”

New clientele

When the smoking law was passed, Ed Gazdacko, owner of Sto-Kent Family Entertainment Center in Stow, worried that business would suffer.

”The nature of the business — having a bar, having bowling — is conducive to cigarette smokers,” he said. ”I was really concerned at first. I didn’t know if they’d keep coming in.”

At first, some didn’t. Bar receipts were down slightly, 3 percent or 4 percent, after the law went into effect. But bar business has since rebounded and is actually up compared with the spring. And on the bowling side, business is up by about 10 percent.

”It’s worked out really well,” he said. ”The atmosphere is better. I’ve got new families coming in here, and they tell me: ‘We knew you kept a clean place, but because there was secondhand smoke, we didn’t come here. Now we do.”’

In other words, nonsmokers have put their money where their votes were.

”I said that I hoped the people who passed the law would come in and patronize our business, and they have,” Gazdacko said.

Creative solutions

Bingo halls had concerns, too.

At the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Portage Trail in Cuyahoga Falls, business dropped by 25 percent after the smoking ban went into effect, parishioner Matt Pagni said.

Instead of breaking the law to allow smoking, the church bought propane heaters to put just outside the gym doors, along with free coffee. This spring, the church built a patio with chairs, ashtrays and an awning. Volunteers will play patrons’ bingo cards if they have to slip out for a smoke.

Now the church’s bingo business is back to at least 95 percent of what it was before the smoking ban.

”It hurt us for a short while,” Pagni said, ”but we reacted fairly quickly and did everything we could to accommodate smokers. We get comments all the time: ‘Nobody else does this for us.’ It’s helped immensely to attract new players and keep the regulars coming.”

It’s also attracted new volunteers, who used to stay away because of the smoke.

”Prior to the smoking ban, it was awful,” Pagni said. ”You’d come home from bingo, peel off your clothes and head straight to the shower. For that reason, we had poor participation in our volunteer program. Since then, volunteers have probably doubled. That’s an obvious benefit. And the gymnasium doesn’t smell like an ashtray any more.”

Chilly reception at bars

Bars, though, are in a different situation, said Jacob Evans, spokesman for the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association.

”We’re hearing from a lot of bars who are talking about drops in sales ranging from 30 to 40 percent, some 80 percent,” he said. ”And some say they’ve had a 100 percent drop because they’ve had to go ahead and close their doors.”

And, now, winter is on the way.

”What’s going to happen now when people have to step outside (to smoke)? If it’s bad now,” Evans said, ”it’s going to be devastating with the cold weather.”

Liquor-permit statistics don’t seem to support the idea that bars are going out of business.

As of December, Summit County had 819 permit holders (for on-premises consumption), said Matt Mullins, spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. This September, the number was 834.

But just because bars aren’t going out of business doesn’t mean they’re not hurting, said the owner of the neighborhood bar that lost $1,000 in May.

”I’m a nonsmoker,” he said. ”I don’t enjoy going home at night from my bar smelling like an ashtray. I go home, take my shirt off, and it just stinks. Smoking is obviously bad for people. At the same time, though, this is my business. I can’t afford to go belly up.”

Read More:  OH Ban Damage

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