In November 2006 Ohio’s voters approved an indoor smoking ban in restaurants and bars. According to the Ohio Department of Health this made “Ohio the first Midwestern state and the first tobacco-growing state to enact such a ban.” Despite a great deal of out-of-state money spent on fighting the ban and a fake ‘smoke less’ initiative put on the ballot by the Tobacco companies, Ohioans overwhelmingly supported the ban.

John Kasich seems to have decided he doesn’t much care for what the voters of Ohio think, and he’s decided to take it upon himself to effectively eliminate enforcement of the ban in his budget. Given the history of this ban, it’s a pretty ballsy move on Kasich’s part.

The smoking ban law currently in place in Ohio came about as part of a ballot initiative and not an act of the legislature. This means the voters of Ohio decided to implement the law – not the General Assembly. It appeared on the ballot as Ohio Ballot Measure 5 or the “Smoke Free Act” in November of 2006 and it appeared on the ballot next to Ohio Ballot Measure 4, a constitutional amendment initiative organized by a group called Smoke Less Ohio.

Ballot Measure 5 (Smoke Free Act) was organized and supported by the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association who spent $2.68 million to get the initiative passed.

Ballot Measure 4 (Smoke Less) was organized and supported by R.J. Reynolds and other big-tobacco-subsidized groups. The goal of these groups was to confuse voters and spin votes away from Measure 5. Because Measure 4 was introduced as a constitutional amendment it would have superseded Measure 5 if passed. Tobacco companies spent over twice as much money ($6.4 million) on their campaign hoping to trick Ohio’s voters into supporting their ballot measure. They failed.

Ohio’s voters proved in 2006 that they are not stupid. They knew EXACTLY what they were voting for. And despite having a deceptive counter initiative on the ballot and being bombarded by millions of dollars in advertising from tobacco companies, they passed the Measure 5 smoking ban 58.2% to 41.8%.

For reference purposes: when George Bush won his second term in 2004 he went around telling anyone who would listen that his decisive victory gave him a mandate for his second term. George Bush’s mandate came with a win totally only 50.7% of the votes (vs Kerry’s 48.3%.)

If 50.7% is a mandate then 58.2% is damn landslide. (btw John Kasich was elected with only 49.0% – hardly a mandate and miles from a landslide)

Regardless of how you feel about the smoking ban, you have to agree that the Democratic process worked in this case. The voters voted. They made a decision. And by a very large margin they decided what they wanted.

As a result the state and its elected officials are required to enforce the law whether they like it or not.

Or so you’d think.

As Laura Bischoff points out in today’s Dayton Daily news, John Kasich’s budget will completely defund enforcement of the smoking ban by 2013.

Are you asking yourself “Why bother having a law if you can’t enforce it”? Then you got the point.

John Kasich again shows that he doesn’t give a crap about Ohio’s laws and certainly doesn’t give a crap what Ohio’s voters think. Is anyone really shocked?

I can only guess how many pieces of paper were wasted printing out copies of his 774-page budget but I know for sure thousands of trees could have been saved if Kasich had just released his budget in its original form:

Dear Ohioans,