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.

Comments

Sue Meredith

The people of the State of Ohio voted this smoking ban into law. It is up to the bar owners to make sure that this law is being followed by both patrons and staff of their establishment. Mr. Smith was given 13 violations between 2009-2011. I would think that he would have taken the hint after the first violation. You do the crime you pay the fine. And just to clarify, yes I do patronize Excuses and I must say I do like the fact that I don't stink like cigarettes when I leave there now.

Contango

Re: "It is up to the bar owners to make sure that this law is being followed by both patrons and staff of their establishment."

The State placing a business owner in the position of acting as enforcement cop for other people's behavior is absurd and heavily onerous.

So what about the idea of the ban extending to private "members only" clubs; you OK with that?

Little need to wonder why small business formation is down in OH.

Licorice Schtick

Your declaration that the enforcement requirement is onerous doesn't make it so. It's pretty easy, really. And it saves on cleaning and burn damage. And it's brought non-smokers back into bars - good for business, overall. Dumps that can't get patrons any other way than to let 'em smoke is a new illegal niche market that should be snuffed out.

Insofar as many "members only" clubs are shams with $5 membership cards, yes, obviously the ban should apply to them. For REAL private clubs, it's only a slightly different question, but there few arguments for denying protection for non-smoking members that wouldn't apply anywhere else.

Ohio Smoking Violations hotline phone number 866-559-6446

rottnrog

Good for business???? LMAO

Tell that to the bar owners, 95% of them have lost business !!!

Contango

Re: "For REAL private clubs,"

You're fracturing the wrong-headed, fascist argument.

"Dumps"?

Third request: So when are you opening your business, since you appear to know all about how to operate a profitable one?

The Big Dog's back

Meltdown.

JoeSchmoe84

Sue and licorice: That's the beauty of a representative Republic, the few aren't forced to do as the majority says. A simple majority vote of the people of a state should not impose rights violations (the rights of the owners of establishments in this case), or push the "morals" of one group onto another. If that majority vote of state's citizens is so binding, why did California's citizens vote twice to outlaw gay marriage, but gay marriage is legal in California now? I could care less who marries who, and it's none of anyone's concern if a business owner allows or doesn't allow an action in his establishment that is legal. If tobacco can be legally purchased, it can be legally consumed. Now run along and tattle on someone, please.

KURTje

Geez. Display how un-wise you are here pooh. Glad you moved away.

Contango

Re: "un-wise"

lol

And you burn wood? Wassamatter kookie, don't care about global warming?

bama

Gotta love it. You can drink till your liver gives out but you can't have a cigarette because the person next to you wants to kill their liver as well but doesn't want second hand smoke. By the way, the other person I just mentioned, will get into their car afterwards and then put the general public's safety at risk.

coasterfan

What about us who don't drink and don't smoke? No one has the right to take away someone else's right to breathe clean air. Being able to breathe is the most basic right a human being can have.

Contango

Re: "What about us,"

Using your illogic:

Probably oughta outlaw the serving of alcohol in public establishments as well in order to reduce drunk driving.

Autocratic Russia has banned the serving of alcohol in all public arenas - you gotta love that!

The Big Dog's back

On 1 thread (voter ID) you right wingnuts want Gov regulations. But on this one, no. Which is it?

Darwin's choice

You have worms again?

But, true democrat logic, apples and grapefruit doggie.

nice try.

coasterfan

Zing! And the Score is: Big Dog 1, hypocritical rightwingnuts 0

Darwin's choice

Sorry, douchebag, but you're still sucking hind teat!

JoeSchmoe84

Sorry, but two different issues. Some of us have been able to develop critical thinking skills, instead of blindly following a false left right party line. Some of us are unable to differentiate, hence the wingnut comment. This thread concerns rights of private property owners, the other deals with following the laws that are in place. There are requirements set forth to exercise the right of voting (age, resident of district, voter registration). You have to show ID for everything these days, why not for voting? What's to hide there? Shouldn't we be certain that the votes cast are all legitimate? To try to compare these two issues with the simple relation of government regulation is silly. Showing your ID to vote is not added regulation, it is the verification of one's identity. I have to show ID to deposit my paycheck, and drive a car, shouldn't the casting of a vote require it also? If that's what you call a "zing" there truly is no hope for any of us. Try thinking for yourself, instead of repeating what you are told, it's very enlightening.

Darwin's choice

Coasterfan, dog, and deer can't think beyond the collective...

Contango

"On 1 thread (voter ID) you" lefty fruitcakes don't "want Gov regulations." "But on this one," yes. Which is it?"

Rosa

Just leave this small establishment alone for God's sake!!!! What a bunch of garbage. We need to enforce laws that REALLY matter. If you do not like smoke (and I am one of those persons who don't) go elsewhere!! Lawmakers should be concentrating on the heroin epidemic and more important issues....

BabyMomma

My feeling is, we voted, it passed. Pay the fines or uphold the rules in your establishment. The only way he would be above the law is if he is also a State Richard(Trooper) (Dick) Those guys make their own rules as they go.

bzbob

I remember to issues on the ballot no smoking or no smoking there was no choice to smoke

worddrow811

Where are all the smokers who are going to cough up some big bucks to help him get the fine paid? I bet the owner feels stupid now?

Nor'easter

You have all missed the issue. The employees have the right to avoid second hand smoke and live healthy lives. Being a working citizen should not require you accept a death penalty far being responsible and getting a job.

worddrow811

death from any manner is not a penalty, it's the experience that comes after life and we all have to do it.

SmokingGunn

The Smoking Ban was not passed by voters who frequent bars,it was passed by 18, 19 and 20 year olds along with elders who do not frequent bars. Had the vote been only for those who go to bars, it would not have passed, however that wasnt the case. The ban also was expanded after it was voted in to include private clubs, who also supported the ban thinking they were exempt from the ban. Had all the cards been on the table at that time, the ban would not be.
Having said that, the law is the law and until it changes, private property owners must follow rules set by majority although the majority does not have to foot the bills to pay for the private property. Kind of a lopsided law.
I wait to see how the state will fold into the casinos demands.

Prohibition... goes beyond the bound of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded" -Abraham Lincoln

looking around

You can't restrict who votes.

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