REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Smoking law hurting local bars' business

A local bar owner pointed out in his own unique, grand-standing way that the state law prohibiting smoking in public places needs to
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

A local bar owner pointed out in his own unique, grand-standing way that the state law prohibiting smoking in public places needs to be altered since it punishes business owners, not individuals, and its implementation is not easily enforceable. 

Paul Hauke Jr., 61, of Sandusky, lit up a cigarette inside the Erie County Health Department earlier this month to protest the law he says is killing his business and killing the businesses of other local tavern owners in the area and across the state.

Hauke, who owns the Lake Wilmer Inn in Perkins Township and Bozes bar in Castalia, said the law makes tavern owners responsible but does not give them any enforcement tools.

A patron can light up without consequence, but the business owners get a citation and multiple citations can lead to revocation of liquor licenses.

Hauke has a valid point.

The county wasn’t cited after Hauke lit up, which it could have been under the current law.

But even more importantly, the state has established a law that threatens the continued viability of businesses that already have a rough road. Many former patrons who want a beer after work or a few on weekends have opted to buy a six-pack and stay home to puff away, and that has put a big damper on revenue.

Add the threat of a shutdown by the state for violations they can’t control, and that rough road becomes a path to ruin for these business owners who employ local residents and provide government revenues through the taxes they pay.

Hauke and other local tavern owners who are members of the Firelands Liquor Permit Holders Association have collected thousands of signatures on petitions demanding the law be altered so

it can be enforced.

It’s the government’s job to police behavior that violates law, not the these business owners.

Hauke has plenty of support in his call for reform, including Scott Brindley, owner of the Sail Inn in Sandusky, Larry “Ernie Eckert, of 34 Degrees and Joe Jenkins of Knucklehead Saloon, both in Huron.

These men are fighting for their businesses and their livelihoods, and we urge state lawmakers to hear their call.