Two-thirds of Ohio smoking-ban fines unpaid
The Ohio Department of Health and the attorney general’s office have collected only one-third of the $2.2 million in fines levied for facilities that have violated the state’s smoking ban since enforcement began four years ago, according to state data.
Smoking is prohibited in most indoor, public places under the ban, which went into effect in 2007. State and local health officials have issued more than 2,300 fines totaling more than $2.2 million since May 2007, but about $1.5 million had not been paid as of April 30, according to a report by the Dayton Daily News, which analyzed the data.
The newspaper found the percentage of fines collected drops each year. It was 81 percent in 2007 but just 26 percent last year.
The agencies involved in collecting the fines say they do what they can to get the money.
Most places comply with the ban, but some officials argue the holdouts would change their ways if the state collected the fines more aggressively. The concerns come as Gov. John Kasich was calling for significant cuts in anti-tobacco money in his two-year budget proposal, the newspaper said.
“I think for an enforcement program to be effective, there has to be a hammer,” Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jim Gross said. “And it’s pretty clear right now this program does not have an effective penalty system to change that behavior.”
Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on Vindy.com