Ready or Not, Smoking Ban is Here

After months of wrangling, Ohio's smoking ban is now being enforced, but those charged with enforcing it are still trying to figure out what that means. At Gary's Westsider in Westwood, and hundreds of other Tri-state bars, the ashtrays have been put away.

Obeying the law is the easy part. The hard part is what happens when someone violates the law.

"It's quite an interesting enforcment matrix, to say the least," said Dale Grigsby with the Cincinnati Health Department. He showed a reporter a two-sided graph outlining how the state is enforcing the smoking ban.

If there's a complaint, a report is written, and two investigations and two interviews are done, before it's even decided if there was a violation. If there is, several rounds of appeals and administrative reviews follow.

One health official told FOX19 that for every 100 dollar smoking fine, local agencies will spend a thousand dollars in personel hours and lawyer fees, assuming there is a violation.

Once a complaint is made, it could be days before an investigator responds, so proving one is tough.

"If there's no ashtrays there, or if it's not a smoke filled room, our sense would be, gee whiz, nobody's smoking in here as far as we can tell, and there's nothing we can do about it," Grigsby said.

He hopes bars like Habits in Oakley will comply anyway.

That's where the American Cancer Society celebrated their two year fight to make Ohio smoke-free.

Peter Osborne of the ACS said "it's nice to be able to get used to the feel of fresh air and the smell of fresh air."