A victory came on October 19, 2009 for Ohio bars and restaurants facing fines for breaking the state smoking ban. Up to that point, enforcement methods essentially required small businesses to enforce the smoking ban for the government. The 1851 Center points out that it’s the government’s law and that the state should be required to enforce its own laws. That’s what the statute said and that’s what the court has said.
“I think we’ve been cited about 12 times and it’s up to about $33,000,” Dick Allen said; he owns Zenos Bar in the Harrison West neighborhood of Columbus.
The state’s 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that the way the ban is enforced is unfair, 10TV’s Kurt Ludlow reported. It all came down to two words “permit smoking.” The court ruled that if a business posts signs prohibiting smoking, and notifies customers that smoking is not allowed, then the business should not be charged with permitting smoking just because a patron is caught doing so.
A Toledo bar challenged a $500 fine it received after a Lucas County health department worker caught a patron smoking inside the bar. In the lawsuit, the Pour House of Toledo argued that they were improperly cited because they had posted signs and told patrons to refrain from lighting up. It’s notable that no one smoking in a bar has been fined as an individual. Now the state is going to have to start investigating whether the patron is smoking without the permission of the owner, or whether the owner gave permission to the patron.
Allen said he would help the state enforce the law if they paid him. “If the state wants me to be their police officer, they should be paying me $30,000 and then I’d be happy to do it,” Allen said. Zenos Bar has not paid any of the fine money.
August 20, 2009 – ONN: Smoking Ban Lawsuit Goes Before an Appeals Court
October 15, 2009: Appellate Court’s Decision