No excuses: Owner to pay fines

Excuses Lounge agrees to pay more than $45,000 in smoking fines
Sandusky Register Staff
Mar 2, 2014
There are no more excuses for the Excuses Lounge.

The neighborhood tavern at Columbus Avenue and Strub Road, faced with the loss of its liquor license, has agreed to pay about $45,000 in fines and penalties for violations of Ohio’s smoking law that stretch over several years.

Excuses owner Terry L. Smith signed the settlement agreement Dec. 31, admitting the violations and agreeing to pay back fines and obey Ohio’s no-smoking laws. Erie County’s health commissioner, Pete Schade, announced the agreement when he met with the county’s health board on Tuesday.

Under the agreement, Smith agreed to pay $5,000 by Jan. 1.

He is then supposed to pay $1,158.34 on the first of the month, every month, beginning Feb. 1, with all fines due to be paid in full by Jan. 1, 2017. In the meantime, however, the balance due will grow as collection costs and interest continue to pile up.   

Erie County’s health department is supposed to get 90 percent of that to help the department pay for its enforcement costs, Schade told the board.

As of Friday, the health department had not received any money, said Joe Palmucci, the health department’s top fiscal officer.

Schade said he believes the settlement is fair, and will make Smith pay for some of the extra profit he gained by allowing smoking.

Schade contends bar owners who looked the other way while patrons lit up gave themselves a competitive advantage over bars that followed the law and did not allow smoking.

Smith did not return a telephone call to Excuses asking for comment.

The settlement reveals Smith apparently settled in order to keep his liquor license.

The attorney general’s office asked the Ohio Division of Liquor Control not to renew Excuses’ liquor license, citing 13 violations from 2007 to 2011, which allegedly showed Smith’s “disregard for the law”

The Ohio Liquor Control Commission voted on Nov. 18, 2013, to yank Excuses’ liquor license. Excuses’ attorney then asked the state health department to settle the matter.

If Smith doesn’t follow the agreement, the attorney general’s office can seek a court order and can again seek to pull the bar’s liquor permit.

Smoking violations and fines at Excuses Lounge
Here are the 13 violations the attorney general’s office listed for violations of the Smoke Free Act at Excuses Lounge:
•Aug. 28, 2007, letter of warning. Ashtray found at the scene.
•Nov. 8, 2007, smoking, $100 fine, paid in full. Ashtray was present.
•June 30, 2009, smoking and inadequate signs, $500 fine.
•Sept. 4, 2009, $1,000 fine, smoking and ashtray present.
•Jan. 5, 2010, smoking, $2,500 fine.
•Feb. 19, 2010, smoking, ashtray present, no signs posted, $2,500 fine.
•April 8, 2010, smoking, ashtray present, inadequate signs, $2,500 fine.
•June 7, 2010, smoking, inadequate signs, $2,500 fine.
•July 15, 2010, smoking, ashtray present, no signs posted, $2,500 fine.
•Sept. 27, 2010, smoking, ashtray present, $2,500 fine.
•Oct. 19, 2010, smoking, ashtray present, $2,500 fine.
•Dec. 28, 2010, smoking, $2,500 fine.
•June 2, 2011, smoking, ashtray present, $2,500 fine.

As of Nov. 7, 2013, Excuses Lounge owed a total of $45,541.84:
Fines, $24,000; attorney general interest, $2,017.04, collection costs, $19,524.10.
The total will grow as collection costs and interest continue to accrue.

Source: Settlement agreement released by Ohio Attorney General’s Office.



Amen !


Nope. A bar is open to the public. If you want to drink and smoke, you stay home.


Re: "A bar is open to the public."

But to cap off the totality of the oppression:

Make no allowances for private "members only" clubs.

Love the nanny state.

looking around

What about the people that work there? This law was passed to protect the environment that they must work in. If you want to smoke while you drink....stat home!

Licorice Schtick

Painting the bar owner as the victim here is silly. He did this all by himself.


Re: "bar owner,"

So when are you opening your business?


USMC: If they were being stalked, there's a reason for that: they have a reputation for flaunting the law. Another possibility you should consider:

There are people like me who have the Ohio Smoking Violations hotline phone number (866.559.6446) on speed dial in their cell phone. If I'm in a restaurant/bar where they allow smoking, I call the number. Just did it Friday night in Genoa, as a matter of fact.

It's just the same as when I see a drunk driver, or someone driving wrongway on the interstate. It's not just that they're breaking the law, they are endangering the lives of other people. For some reason, Contango appears to be siding with the people who are hurting/endangering others, which of course, is a completely undefendable viewpoint...


Re: "drunk driver,"

A fallacious analogy.


clusterfan: What will be your reward for your obedience to your masters? Will you get special treatment, or run over the same as everyone else? I know the answer, do you?
Secondly, all private owned business should have the right to decide if they want to allow smoking or not. You state these bars are public, but they are privately owned. If an owner loses money for allowing smoking in THEIR establishment , so be it. It is the owner's choice. This law is nothing more than another way to shake down business owners. Without the law in place, it would be the owner and the patron's right to choose. Don't want to go in an establishment with smoking? Go to one that the OWNER decided not to allow it. Or do you need someone else to make all of your choices for you? ( I know the answer to that question also )


But no one has a right to poison other people.


Aw, GOOD little Brown Shirt! ::: pat, pat, pat :::

Stop It


Kottage Kat

How many phone calls do you have to make to earn you Mother Theresa merit badge???

Steve P

"being stalked" or ongoing violations, without any regard for the consequences.


Does that mean the health dept won't need to raise the prices of their clinics with this influx of funds?



“You want it high enough so it doesn’t encourage overuse of the health center. If it’s free, people will just come every day”

- Randy Runyon

Ben Crazy

Freedom! Free to do what the Govornment tells u to do!

Steve P

Twenty -eight state now have public smoking bans including North Carolina, where R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was founded and based. The law passed by a large margin of 58% of the voters, it wasn't the government it was the people.


Re: "Twenty -eight state (sic),"

Aren't there 50 states and a few territories?

Steve P

Twenty-two states do not have a state wide smoking ban, but some of these do have limited bans as do most of the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. 28 + 22=50, clear enough for you?

The Big Dog's back

Full meltdown pooh, arguing with yourself. Sad.

Steve P

piddle aka bfruite were you inhaling again?


Re: "Twenty-two states do not have a state wide smoking ban, but some of these do have limited bans,"

Evidence of 'some' states believing in a free and open market.

If tobacco is so (bleeping) dangerous, then why isn't the FDA controlling it like a drug or why isn't its sale banned?

And yet, the bozos in CO & WA go and legalize the sale of another known carcinogen. Which is STILL against fed law. lol

Ralph J.

I thought that the fines went to the state treasury or that is what the law states. How does Schade figure the health department gets 90 percent of the fines?

Stop It

The proprietor should be able to say if it is a smoking establishment or not. They should have signs outside and inside stating such. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE SMOKE. DO NOT ENTER. BTW, I don't smoke. You can't get "poisoned" if you don't walk in.


Re: "The proprietor (snip),"

Too common sensical for those that despise our Constitutional rights of personal freedom and individual responsibility.


Agreed. But the progressive mindset consists of two and ONLY two "absolutes:"

1. I know what's best for you! and

2. I will force you to live the way I know best, and will do so at gunpoint.


Well at least we all found out coaster fan is a snitch. Calling hotlines on business's? Coaster fan you obviously have issues, you don't like it go somewhere else! If I don't like a businesses practice then I just don't go there. I don't nark and call OSHA, health dept, ECT ECT. Some of you really need to get a life!

Licorice Schtick

Thugs and gangbangers call someone who reports a crime a "snitch."

Ohio Smoking Violations hotline phone number 866-559-6446


Probably the kind that would turn his/her own mother in to the Stasi for the good of the State.

Again: So when are you opening your business?