Monday, the county is giving a smoking ordinance overview presentation. It's a chance for local businesses to get another update on the rules. Businesses can iron out any questions or concerns they may have since the smoking ordinance went into effect last April.
The Saint Joseph County Health Department is also reviewing complaints and looking ahead to next year. That's when manufacturing businesses will have to go non-smoking, if they haven't already.
South Bend's Casa Del Rio is one of several restaurants that's been granted a two-year exemption to the smoking ordinance. “I think for the smaller Moms and Pops, it's been a nice easement in, we can't take on huge losses right away,” says Casa Del Rio’s owner, Jesse Arredondo.
The restaurant has put up signs posting exactly where smoking is allowed, but by April 2008, Casa Del Rio must either seal up it's bar smoking area or go smoke-free altogether. So whether it's a restaurant-bar like Casa Del Rio or another company, businesses are getting an update on what the ordinance means for them. “How are other businesses coping? How do I explain that to my public?” asks Carl Meyers, owner of Black Cat Lanes, a New Carlisle bowling alley.
This time around, the health department is focusing on manufacturing companies. By April of 2007, the ordinance says those businesses will have to go smoke-free. “We’ve already announced when it will take effect. I'm just here to get the scoop on what we have to do exactly,” says Roger Wilson, of South Bend Modern Molding. Wilson says the non-smokers can’t wait to get started, while the smokers aren’t so happy about the changes.
St. Joseph County Health Department officials say overall they believe it's been a smooth transition into the ordinance. They're actually surprised at how few complaints they've gotten.
Out of the 46 establishments that received smoking complaints, the health department said most of those had to do with signage. They said many locations didn't post signs whether they allowed smoking or did not. “Signs have to be posted that they're walking into a non-smoking establishment. Even though a bar is exempt from the ordinance- they have to post to the public a warning that ‘this is a smoking establishment,’” says Rita Hooton, St. Joseph County Health Department.
Aside from the 46 complaints, there has been just one violation where a fine was issued. That was a 50 dollar fine to an individual who admitted to smoking in the workplace.