Improper enforcement of state ban on smoking

The Ohio drastic enforcement of the state indoor smoking ban, implemented in 2007 forces the owners and bar personnel to track every action of every customer to prevent patrons from lighting up inside the premises otherwise the businesses are subjected to pay fines, a non-governmental policy institute claims in a legal action.

The decision of the court might have consequences for all eating and drinking establishments over the state that have got almost 45,000 individual complaints, more than 3,000 warning letters and up to 2,00 fines, starting from May 2007, when the ban came into force.

Inproper state ban on smoking

July 11, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray opened up a new level of enforcement, submitting lawsuits against two bars, which according to Cordray, violated the legislation many times.

This would be the first case of its kind in the history of smoking bans.

The attorney said that under the law smoking is not allowed in bars and restaurants, and the bars have to crack it down. Two venues, one in Columbus and the other in Cincinnati have to pay almost $50,000 overall in fines for as much as 20 infringements, however they haven’t passed a cent, waiting on the ruling of an action before the Franklin County-based District Court of Appeals.

According to the lawsuit, the Pour House bar in Toledo challenges a citation by an inspector of local health department, who ticketed the bar seeing a smoldering cigarette in the box with mints immediately after he entered the bar. Maurice Thompson, member of Buckeye Institute and the attorney for the bar said the bar personnel did what they could to prevent a patron from puffing.

Thompson said that the inspector has not determined properly the details and cited the bar immediately after he entered, without any thought that when a bartender saw someone lighting up he needs time to come to the customer and ask him to put out the cigarette.

Cordray, who represents the Ohio Department of Public health in the court, denied making any comments, except saying that it was the inspector’s responsibility to cite the bar.

A decision, favoring the bar might provide more arguments to business owners, when they try to explain that they have done their best to prevent smokers from lighting up, including placing smoke-free signs on the door, taking away ashtrays and urging smokers to light up outside.

A great part of business owners have been complaining that the ban destroys their revenues, especially when the recession already made business suffer. Many of them claim that the ban violates their rights and doesn’t comply with constitution.

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