Ohio Smoking ban finally gains teeth

Our legislators are really good at coming up with new laws, regulations and restrictions- without figuring out the costs of enforcement. When the smoking ban went into place it was totally unclear about who would enforce the ban.

As some establishments chose to ignore the ban, thinking fines were just going to be a cost of doing business- the state finally has figured out a way to take that idea out of the equation:

A handful of area businesses owe tens of thousands of dollars in dozens of unpaid fines for smoking violations, which under a new state initiative could put their liquor licenses at risk in the future when they are up for renewal.

In a precedent-setting move, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control this month denied the liquor permit renewal of the Hamilton County business Peg’s Pub, on the grounds that it repeatedly disregarded state law by incurring about 18 fines and failing to pay $55,900 they owed, said Jen House, spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Health.

Until now, Liquor Control never used smoking-ban violations and unpaid fines as criteria when evaluating renewal requests for liquor licenses.

Although no local businesses owe nearly as much as Peg’s Pub in Evendale did or accumulated as many smoking fines, the Miami Valley Sports Bar in West Carrollton owes $32,000, Webster Station in Dayton owes $27,000, Coyote’s Pub & Grub in Dayton owes $20,100, and the Harem strip club on North Dixie Drive owes $15,000, according to the state health department…

Through March, Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County had issued 158 smoking violations, worth more than $220,000, to local businesses. Owners have only paid about $16,000, the agency said.

In Montgomery County, at least 10 businesses owe $5,000 or more in fines, according to the state health department….

Bill Wharton, spokesman for Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County, said his department has issued about $28,000 in fines to Ziggy’s Ritz Night Club and $17,500 to BoJangles Nightclub. He said the fines may be still under review or appeal.

via Smoking fines could shut down local bars.

Considering the ban went in place back in 2007 and we are now just starting to find the way to enforce the law is yet another example that our politicians have hugely been rendered impotent by big money influence. Ohio has already diverted the anti-smoking money from the big tobacco settlement away from its primary mission.

HHS required cigarette package design 3

Coming to your smokes in 2012, new package designs

New packaging to “scare off” smokers will be introduced in 2012- yet the only thing that has proven to reduce smoking has been raising taxes on cigarettes to painful levels.

While libertarian commentators on this site will scream about personal freedom and personal choice, tobacco consumption has huge costs to society. If, in order to purchase and use tobacco, you sign away all rights to any public or group health care, and becoming 100% liable for your own smoking-related illnesses until you die- cigarettes and tobacco users should be taxed to cover their real costs.

Also, since smoke isn’t the same as sticking a needle in your own arm- the locations that are acceptable to partake in the filthy habit, should be restricted to your private property, and nowhere else. I’m tired of walking through a wall of smoke to enter public buildings- and I’m tired of seeing the trash that smokers seem to feel they have the right to generate by discarding their butts at will.

It’s time for Ohio to join New York in putting real teeth into the public smoking ban- and to raise the cost of tobacco to the painful level. We also need to ban the sale of singles- in both cigarettes and cigars, which are straight plays to the poor, who can least afford the health costs.

Taking away liquor licenses for smoking violations should have started years ago- that it’s happening now is a good sign.


It’s only been a year since the smoking ban went into place

It’s been a year. And now our County is finally handing out it’s first fines. Makes you wonder if some people working for the county should still have jobs? What part of the law didn’t they understand?

The county health board approved fines Wednesday, Aug. 24, for three area drinking establishments accused of breaking the statewide indoor smoking ban.

In its first vote on violators since enforcement of the law started in May 2007, the board rejected the businesses’ appeals and affirmed $100 fines recommended by investigators for Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County.

Those fined were the American Legion Post 668, 950 Helke Road, Vandalia; Courtyard Lounge, 320 W. National Road, Englewood, and Ned Peppers, 419 E. Fifth St., Dayton.

County OKs first fines for smoking law violation.

Are laws optional these days? I’m also wondering how Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr. has decided not to charge the the kid who shot his friend? No judge, no jury? What has happened to our laws. If I shoot you and it’s an accident- it’s ok now?

When our laws are enforced at random- do we still have laws?

Strickland shows his spine is missing- again

When an issue goes on the ballot- the voters don’t get to line item vote- it’s a simple yay- nay thing. We also don’t get to make excuses after the fact. We are presented with a choice and vote. Simple. No trying to define the word “is” or anything else. And in the election – it was complicated by having to vote on two separate issues to get it right.

The smoking ban wasn’t that close of a decision- Ohioans voted for smoke-free, even though the tobacco lobby- and the restaurant owners tried to confuse the voters. So why now does Strickland challenge the vote? Because he is quickly showing he has no spine to stand up to a vocal minority and do the right thing. First it was the stripper bill, and now this:

Strickland challenges smoking ban at private clubs
On Friday, Gov. Ted Strickland said that he has asked Attorney General Marc Dann to appeal a May 17 decision in Franklin County Common Pleas Court that said the state overstepped its authority with a rule that exempted private clubs, including veterans’ groups, from the statewide indoor smoking ban approved by voters last year.
“I am troubled that many citizens, including veterans, voted for the smoking ban last fall with the understanding that it included an exception for private clubs, only to be told later that the ban doesn’t include a real exception,” Strickland said in a press release.

The veterans groups can do what other smokers now do in the state- go outside, and kill themselves solo. Still no need to stink up the joint for the rest of us- or expose us to dangerous second hand smoke. Smoking is a personal choice- and protected by law- no one is telling you not to smoke- just do it by yourself.

There is no reason to exempt any interior space in the State of Ohio for smoking. Follow the vote- voters were not misled, they had to make 2 votes to make this happen- or has our Governor forgotten.

Someone please explain this?

Wayne Avenue is closed today- from Bainbridge to E. Fifth Street- for St. Patty’s day- so the Dublin Pub can have a drunk fest.

This closing affects other businesses (Coco’s for one) and the rest of us- who might need to get from here to there.

Why does a single business get to close a public street? Especially for a for-profit drunk fest? This is the same Dublin Pub that openly allowed smoking after the law banned it.

I’m confused- someone please explain?

Letter to the Editor: Act of protest seems to be lost art

Today’s paper had a shortened version of what I sent in- here are both versions:

Know what to do if person has a seizure; Learning trades should be option; Death penalty needs re-examination; Act of protest seems to be lost art
Act of protest seems to be lost art

Re “Theater audiences are free to accept, reject plays ideas,” Dec. 26: In a country that was forged through a dumping of tea in Boston Harbor and cauterized by a lone black woman refusing to move to the back of the bus, our citizens have grown indifferent to challenges to the status quo.

Our recent protest against smoking on stage was greeted with disdain by a few, indifference by some, inaction by many, and was mostly ignored by the press until long after the play Moonlight & Magnolias closed, and the public voted to ban smoking in public places.

Did we “win” the protest?

If you read the “Other Voices” column by Marsha Hanna — no, we did not. She was the victor and we were driving a stake through the heart of her organization by simply questioning why an actor had to light a cigarette and burn it as opposed to just pretending to smoke.

She cast herself as the protector of artistic freedom, and us as Fascist dictators trying to censor art, which is far from the truth. Our protest wasnt an attack on the Human Race Theater Company; it was an attempt to bring attention to an issue that has been destroying lives for too long.

But it seems that our society and Hanna has a hard time accepting protest as an art form. Its not a win/lose proposition. There is no score keeping — at least not like what we are used to in politics or baseball.

Protests are won when an issue moves from the shadows into the light, or onto the opinion pages of this paper.

David Esrati


A lost art: Protest

In a country that was forged through a dumping of tea in Boston Harbor and cauterized by a lone black woman refusing to move to the back of the bus, our citizens have grown indifferent to challenges to the status quo.

Our recent protest against smoking on stage was greeted with disdain by a few, indifference by some, inaction by many, and was mostly ignored by the press until long after the play closed and the public voted overwhelmingly to ban smoking in public places.

Did we “win” the protest? If you read the “Other Voices” column by Marsha Hanna- no, we did not. She was the victor and we were driving a stake through the heart of her organization by simply questioning why an actor had to light a cigarette and burn it (as opposed to just holding it and pretending to smoke).

She cast herself as the protector of artistic freedom- and us as Fascist dictators trying to censor art, which is as far from the truth as the idea that “smoking is glamorous” – an idea that was foisted upon our country by the peddlers of death who advertised smoking as healthy for years.

Until November 7, Ohio allowed smoking in bars and restaurants and on stage at the Human Race. Some bar owners are ignoring the law now, and protesting in their own way, to the glee of many smokers (who will later lie on their deathbeds cursing their years of self abuse).

Ms. Hanna can try to wrap herself up as some freedom-loving protector of the arts- yet, when push comes to shove she admits she will comply with the law. How then is she not betraying the art? In the same way that they don’t really shoot people on stage, or drink real booze (both things we mentioned on our flyer). She will ask the audience to use their imagination to fill in the blanks.

What we asked, was for people to consider that smoking, even for 15 seconds on stage, doesn’t have to happen just because a playwright penned it, or the director thought they had to stick to the script.

Our protest did involve calling sponsors and questioning their support of a needless lighting of a cigarette on stage, and one even came out and protested with us. It wasn’t an attack on the Human Race Theater Company, it was an attempt to bring attention to an issue that has been destroying lives without question for too long.

But it seems that our society (and Ms. Hanna) has a hard time accepting protest as an art form. It’s not a win/lose proposition. There is no score keeping- at least not like what we are used to in politics or baseball. Protests are won when an issue moves from the shadows into the light, or onto the opinion pages of this paper.

Think of all the freedoms you enjoy because someone stopped to protest instead of accepting the status quo. It’s as American as can be- an art form far more important than smoking on stage.

David Esrati

So- be warned- your letter may be shortened-

and to those of you who tire of my anti-smoking tirades on this site, save it.

Ziggy’s Ritz- YOU SUCK.

We went to Ziggy’s Ritz. 5670 Springboro Pike, Dayton OH at 9pm tonight- the doors were open- and the smell of smoke still greeted us before we got through the doors.
I asked the girl at the door why I smelled smoke- and she said “Cause they’re not enforcing the law in bars for 6 months”-
I told her she was breaking the law- and she said they weren’t.
I was there to see my 17 year old employee be the DJ- he doesn’t smoke- but after less than 3 minutes in the place- our clothes stank.
Please take away their liquor license- if they can’t follow something as simple as a non-smoking law- they probably can’t ID properly- or collect taxes.
They didn’t have the required sign posted on the door either.

Other Voices: Plays smoking scene wasnt necessary

Today, the Dayton Daily News ran my fellow protester’s piece on our protest- of course they ran it on a Monday- one of their low circulation days.

It’s already got one of their “Most Popular” links attached- and while this issue is important- what’s become more important is our State Government’s lame “we’re not enforcing the law for 6 months stance” on issue 5.

Would they do that with the minimum wage law? No.

Would they do that with the drinking age? Or a speed limit? No.

It’s quite simple- more than 10 e-mails about a drinking establishment- you send a police officer in to verify that their are ashtrays or smoking inside- and, a one week closure with suspension of your liquor license- starting today.

In fact, there is a hearing in Columbus today- on the smoking ban enforcementfrom 10 am to 3 pm at the Ohio Department of Health, 246 N. High St. Eighth Floor Conference room- unfortunately, I have to work and there is no listed way to provide input over the Internet.

Pam’s piece is a step in the right direction- as were many of the speak up comments. At some point the State needs to wake up and realize that laws only mean something if enforced.

Other Voices: Plays smoking scene wasnt necessary
Other Voices: Plays smoking scene wasnt necessary

By Pam Strohmeyer

Monday, December 18, 2006

In October, the Human Race Theatres production of Moonlight & Magnolias included a totally gratuitous smoking scene at the end. It added nothing to the play, and it wasnt important to the plot. All it did was glamorize smoking.

When asked why — since many people are sensitive to smoke — Human Race Theatre Company artistic director Marsha Hanna defended the scene on the grounds of artistic freedom. Several alternatives were suggested that would have accomplished the same dramatic effect. She rejected all of them, possibly because she has a history of smoking herself.
I was one of a small group of people, organized by David Esrati, who took advantage of the timeliness of the production of Moonlight & Magnolias to raise awareness for Smoke-Free Ohio. We stood outside before each performance in a peaceful and good-natured protest. We handed out anti-smoking propaganda aimed at Hannas decision, and reminded people to vote no on Issue 4 and yes on Issue 5.

This wasnt a boycott. In fact, we told people that it was a great show, except for the smoking part. If anything, we generated extra publicity for the play. Our goal was just to create some social pressure to show smokers that lighting up in public places is not acceptable.

Apparently, some people still disagree. In the article “Smoke Free Workplace Act filters down to the way indoor theater will be presented,” Dec. 3, Hanna asserts that it will take time for audiences to “accept this convention without laughing.”

Thats ridiculous. If members of the audience couldnt use their imaginations and suspend disbelief, theater wouldnt even exist. Does Hanna think that each time a boy stepped onstage at the Globe as Juliet, the audience was too busy laughing to listen to the balcony scene? Please.

To make the article more balanced, the Dayton Daily News might have mentioned that this debate was going on in our community even before the election. The writer also might have sought opinions from both sides.

Instead of offering all perspectives on this issue, the article read like a nostalgia piece for the good old days when actors could smoke onstage, unhindered by pesky laws.

The DDN article mentioned several film icons who smoked on screen and in real life. But you neglected to mention that Humphrey Bogart died of esophageal cancer, Sammy Davis Jr. died of throat cancer, and Dean Martin died of respiratory failure caused by emphysema and lung cancer. Smoking is known to cause all of these diseases.

Since these film legends smoked when the script called for it, can we say they died for their art? Hardly. Their deaths werent that noble or purposeful; they simply died from their addiction to tobacco. And who knows how many nonsmokers they killed with their secondhand smoke.

Creative license and freedom of speech are important, but your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. Theater-goers who pay $35 to see a play have a right not to be assaulted by secondhand smoke.

Pam Strohmeyer is a registered nurse who works as a clinical research coordinator at a local hospital.

She lives in Miamisburg.

Dublin Pub; Dayton Ohio’s Authentic lawbreakers

I went to the Dublin Pub tonight- looking forward to being able to eat indoors, normally, due to the smoke, I can only eat on their patio. I see the no smoking sign posted in the window- but inside people are smoking- and there are ashtrays on the bar- and the tables.

I went to the bartender and said “I was looking forward to eating here without the smoke- I don’t appreciate your breaking the law”- and left after getting “two thumbs up” from the bar tender.

Not only will I no longer eat at the Pub- I would advise others not to.

I called the 800 number- and sent an e-mail to the violation reporting address: [email protected]

If the Ohio Department of Health wants to see instant enforcement- the simple answer it to pull the liquor license from establishments that can’t follow the law.

That will work better than fines.

Frankly, I like the pubs food- but, if this is the way the owners want to treat the laws of our state- maybe they should go to Ireland- they can’t smoke in bars either.

Ireland became the first country in Europe on Monday (March 2004) to impose an outright ban on smoking in workplaces.That would be a true “Authentic Irish Pub.”

Smoking in the Theater- Terry Morris uses Esrati.com as a crib sheet.

Today’s DDN has a long (by their new “McNews” format) about the smoking ban- and its application to theater productions. It’s the same issue we protested outside Moonlight and Magnolias- see “Join my crusade! Smoke Free Theater in Dayton“, and DDN theater critic Terry Morris interviews Marsha Hanna.

Considering Pam Strohmeyer and I protested this issue outside every single production on this same issue- and that I thoroughly addressed the issue on this blog, and that I cited both case of the Irish actor playing Churchill and the cases in Denver that he mentions- I was surprised that there was no mention made of this blog, our protest or what we suggested.

More so- Marsha Hanna, Director of the Human Race Theater Company- still doesn’t seem to get that audiences aren’t so stupid as to be able to imagine that an unlit cigarette works just as well as a lit one as a prop. They don’t drink real booze on stage, they don’t use real guns, and if they use prop guns- it’s not real blood either. It’s simple enough to hold a cigarette in your hand- and pretend to smoke- we, the audience, get it.

Smoke- from tobacco, herbs, or anything else- including cars- is bad for our health. It does not belong indoors at anytime. Marsha Hanna needs to get over her filthy self-destructive habit- and Terry Morris needs to cite his sources and give credit where credit is due.

This is a serious issue, and Ms. Hanna deserves a legitimate spanking in public for her continued whining about her support of smoke inside a theater.

On one other note: The Dublin Pub’s owner, Ray Dixon’s continued whining about the voters choice to go smoke free, is making me less want to patronize his establishment after the new law takes effect. Stop being a whiner Ray. More people don’t smoke, don’t want to stink, don’t want to die from other peoples foul habit- including your employees.

Smoke free will be here Thursday- rejoice!

A day that shall live in infamy. Ohio goes smoke free Dec. 7 2006!

From Smoke Free Ohio:

On Thursday December 7th, for the first time in Ohio’s history, all Ohioans will be able to go out to eat, go to a bowling alley, even go out for a drink with friends in a completely smoke-free environment.

Hard to imagine, right?

Not anymore!

So, what is the best way to celebrate a SmokeFreeOhio? How about at your favorite restaurant!

Going out on the town on December 7th is not only an excellent chance to experience a smoke-free night, it’s also an important opportunity for us to show Ohio’s restaurant, bar, and bowling alley owners how much we appreciate them going smoke-free.

On December 7th, let’s all go out and celebrate our SmokeFreeOhio victory by patronizing Ohio’s many newly smoke-free businesses!

I plan on visiting Canal Street Tavern a lot more often to see great music in a smoke free, living room like, environment.

Other places I may now be able to go to comfortably: Tanks, Pearl, Night Owl, Trolley Stop and Tumbleweed.

It’s unfortunate- but I’m most worried about Gilly’s, Therapy Cafe and Pacchia losing some business as non-smokers find new places to hang out.