For more information about the understandings, essential questions, and alignment of this lesson to National Health Education Standards, State Standards, please visit our website, www.roadoflife.org



The effect of secondhand smoke has become a hot topic in cities and states across the country. In the 2006 election, citizens in Ohio voted to become smoke-free. Smoking is officially banned in all public places and work places, meaning any location that has an employee or invites members of the public to enter. This was an act of a group called Smoke Free Ohio. Smoke Free Ohio had numerous partners throughout the state of Ohio, both non-profits and businesses. These groups came together to promote action that will benefit the health of all people in Ohio. Secondhand smoke is extremely dangerous. Students should understand that the decision to remain smoke-free should include avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke. Furthermore, students should understand that they, as citizens, can have an active part in making and changing laws. For a summary or full text of the law, please visit www.smokefreeohio.org .

Discussion: Part I: How does government function in Ohio?

Ohio’s State Government models the government of the United States. In Ohio, there are three Branches:

Legislative: Creates or makes the laws. In Ohio, this includes the state Senate and House of Representatives, collectively called the Ohio General Assembly. It also includes legislative agencies, or numerous committees and commissions to oversee compliance and ethics.

Executive: Enforces the laws. In Ohio, this includes the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Governor’s cabinet. Other positions include: Secretary of State, Auditor of State, Attorney General, Treasury of State and the State Board of Education.

Judicial: Interprets the laws. The judicial branch includes: the Ohio Supreme Court, Court of Claims and Court of Judiciary bodies. These judiciary bodies include: county common pleas courts, municipal courts and courts of appeal.

All positions in Ohio are elected by the citizens of Ohio, with the exception of the Governor’s Cabinet. People who serve in the Governor’s Cabinet are appointed by the governor and usually run a variety of state agencies. These people serve at the pleasure of the governor and can be asked to leave at any time.

How is the system listed above similar to the system used at the federal level?

•Our Governor represents which figure in Federal Government? (The President)

•Our Lieutenant Governor represents which figure in the Federal Government? (The Vice President)

•There is the US Supreme Court and the Ohio Supreme Court. How are they different? (The Ohio Supreme Court Justices are elected and the US Supreme Court Justices are appointed.)

•The Ohio General Assembly is similar to what federal body? (Congress)

**City or local governments can vary significantly. Find the structure for your city, village or township. Present it to the class. Compare how it is similar to State Government. In cities, the executive branch is usually represented by a mayor. The legislative branch is usually represented by city council. The judicial branch is usually made up of judges in municipal, common pleas and/or county courts. We also have local police who help enforce laws.**

Discussion: Part II: How can citizens participate in government and the legislative process?

It’s the voters and citizens that drive the legislative process in Ohio. If you look at the chart on how a bill becomes a law in Ohio, the very first step claims that the legislator must become aware of the need for legislation. Students should understand that they can be the ones to inform their leaders of a problem or situation that may call for legislation. In order to make leaders aware of an issue, they can do the following:

•Write a letter to their City Council, School Board, State Representative, Senator or House Representative.

•Attend a City Council meeting and present your case

•Attend a School Board meeting and present your case

•Call an elected leader

Our elected officials are supposed to be the voice of the people. We vote for them because we think they will represent our interests. So, it is our responsibility to ask them to act on situations that we care about.

Another way to participate is to get an issue on the ballot. If you have an interest in something in particular, such as a health issue, chances are there are many other people who feel the same way. Often, people come together in what is called an interest group. They want to advocate an important issue, but they can not do it alone. This group of people will gather signatures on a form called a petition. The people who sign the petition must be registered voters. If enough signatures are collected and the signatures are determined to be those of registered voters, then the issue brought forth will appear on the ballot. If voters then vote to the pass the issue, it becomes a law.

What is a ballot? A ballot is the form in which a vote is recorded.

What is a petition? A petition is a formal request that is signed by people who agree with it and is given to a person of authority.

The third way to participate in government and the legislative process is to run for an elected office. This will mean that you will always be able to contribute to the law- making process. You will vote to pass laws that you may have helped create.

Most importantly, adult citizens can vote! Voting is a right that people, including women and minorities, fought very hard to have. Citizens are afforded this right when they reach eighteen years of age. At this point, the government feels that you are old enough to make an informed decision. As an adult, it’s your responsibility to be an active part of elections.

Discussion: Part III: Secondhand Smoke

See what students know…

What is secondhand smoke? Secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke that comes from the end of the cigarette that is burning and the smoke that is breathed out by the smoker(s).

Who is affected by secondhand smoke? Everyone! It does not matter if you are young or old, healthy or unhealthy, secondhand smoke can cause severe health problems.

Why is secondhand smoke dangerous? Secondhand smoke contains poisons. (In other words, it’s toxic) The same harmful chemicals that are found in cigarettes can be found in secondhand smoke. Breathing in this smoke can damage your health and also lead to certain cancers.

More specifically, it contains:

Cancer causing chemicals: Formaldehyde, Benzene, Polonium-210, Vinyl Chloride

Poison Gases: Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Cyanide, Butane, Ammonia, Toluene

Toxic Metals: Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, Chromium

Other health effects besides cancer that secondhand smoke can cause:

•Heart Disease

•Heart Attack

•Itchy, watery eyes

•Onset of Asthma attacks (for those with Asthma)

•Irritated skin, nose and throat

What should people do to avoid secondhand smoke?

1. Avoid being around smokers. Do not allow smoking in your home, car or any other enclosed area.

2. Do not hang around people who smoke.

3. Do not go to restaurants or other public places where smoking is allowed.

What is being done?

•Smoking is banned in most public places.

Ohio is one of 15 states to enact a full, state-wide smoking ban. This issue was voted on in the November 2006 election. The law went into effect December 7, 2006. This took the place of many city-wide smoking bans. (State law supersedes city law.) This means that any place with an employee is not allowed to have smokers indoors, with very few exceptions to the rule.

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