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

Dayton

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.