Inspectors Find Smokers in More Than 80 Bars
Inspectors enforcing the city’s workplace smoking ban found smokers at more than 80 bars they visited in the last three weeks, but no one was slapped with the $81 fine.
Fire officials told the City Council on Tuesday that they had avoided issuing the fines in favor of a softer, educational approach to the smoking ban. But that explanation did not sit well with the council, which long ago approved a $250,000 enforcement program.
“I’m not pleased with what I’m hearing. The Fire Department presented, along with the city attorney, to the City Council an enforcement program, not an education program,” said Councilwoman Laura Chick, head of the Public Safety Committee.
“They are supposed to be going out and enforcing the law,” she said.
The inspectors can levy an $81 fine to a smoker for a first-time offense, which doubles on the second offense and doubles again on the third. Businesses can be fined $100 at first, or as much as $7,000 for numerous offenses.
Inspectors were told to judge each case on its merits and use their discretion, said fire Capt. Mark Gozawa, who supervises the program, which employs two inspectors and a clerk.
“We’re trying to meet the spirit of the law--which is trying to get a smoke-free workplace, not to see how many tickets we can write,” Gozawa said.
Mayor Richard Riordan agrees with the soft approach because the city just began enforcing the 18-month-old ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.