Shopping cart
  • Items:0
  • Shipping:$0
  • Total:$0.00

 

Shopping Cart

Catalog

Smoking Fines Cost Ohio Bar Liquor Permit Renewal

The state is poised to remove the liquor permit of a Cincinnati-area bar that would be the first Ohio establishment to lose its license for violating the state smoking cigarettes ban, and other businesses risk a similar fate, state officials said Thursday.

More than $1.7 million in unpaid smoking cigarettes fines is owed by establishments statewide, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The state health department has been meeting with the state's attorney general and liquor control division to see what can be done "to crack down on the worst offenders that continue to disregard and violate the law and aren't paying their fines," Health Department spokeswoman Jen House said. The health department certifies information on violations and fines and provides that information to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, which has the authority to deny permit renewals.

The division has notified Peg's Pub in Evendale that it is denying renewal of the bar's liquor permit because of violations of the 4-year-old law and unpaid fines totaling about $56,000, plus interest, and additional costs as of July 8. Since May 2007, Peg's Pub has received numerous fines for at least 17 violations of the state law that prohibits smoking cigarettes in many indoor places, and it has been warned, state officials said.

The pub owner can continue selling liquor, for now, and has 30 days to appeal the order with the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, which would decide whether to affirm the order, said Matt Mullins, Liquor Control Division spokesman.

"If the owner does not take action, the order goes into effect," Mullins said.

He said similar actions might be taken against others.

"We will continue to pursue possible action against establishments with repeated violations and unpaid fines," he said.

Pub owner David Pitzer said he will appeal the order and fight to keep his permit.

"I've been paying $100 a month to the state for over a year, and now they are telling me I have 30 days to pay more than $55,000," said Pitzer. "They're taking my rights away without even confronting me. I don't have that kind of money."

The smoking cigarettes ban has taken fire from bar and restaurant owners across the state and has been called unconstitutional, a sentiment echoed by Pitzer.

"I think the government is trying to pressure me and others to get money before the state Supreme Court changes the law," he said.

Pending before the Ohio Supreme Court is a challenge brought by the owner of a Columbus tavern that has been cited for violations and fined $33,000. That challenge argues the ban denies bar owners' property rights, among other things.

Philip Craig, executive director of the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, is aware of the order against Peg's Pub.

"We are studying it and trying to explore with the state to see if we can come up with another approach to resolve these kinds of matters before taking people's liquor permits away," Craig said.