Compliance with Smoking Ban is Up in Toledo Area

TOLEDO -- The statewide smoking ban went into effect months ago, but it wasn't until May that the State actually began enforcing it. Three months later, is it working?

News 11's Shelley Brown asked people on the street what they thought.

Both Lucas and Wood County health officials say the number of smoking complaints has dropped -- dramatically. And because of the lengthy enforcement process, it could be a while before the health department issues any fines, which start at $100 and go all the way up to $2,500.

Ohio health officials began enforcing the statewide smoking ban May 3. Since then, officials in Lucas County say compliance is up.

"We were looking at maybe 40 complaints a day, and now we're probably down, maybe three or four a day," says Lucas County Director of Environmental Health Alan Ruffel.

In Wood County, health officials say they're seeing just one to two complaints a week -- down from about 10.

"A lot of people don't want to get no fines. So they have to comply with it," says Rex Robinson, a Toledo resident.

At Spice Sports Bar and Grill in downtown Toledo, the owner says despite the smoking ban, business is up. "I'm not so sure if the smoking ban is affecting me as much anymore because I think people are more used to it," says Brittany Gadus.

So far, there have been 199 registered complaints in Lucas County. Of those, inspectors have found only 18 to actually be in violation, but the county -- until just recently -- has been conducting inspections during regular hours only.

"We're starting to do some over time and weekends so we suspect that there may be some places out there that don't smoke during the day but allow it at night," Ruffel says.

Businesses have received notices of violation -- and warnings. Club Liberty Bar and Grill has received 14. The Fraternal Order of Eagles -- a non profit in Maumee -- has gotten 30, and Martini and Nuzzi's has had 14.

But so far, fines have not been issues.

"There's a lot of procedure for appealing any of the notices. Each step of the way there's a 30 day appeals process," Ruffel says.

It could be another month or two before businesses begin to actually see fines.

Posted by KO