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Board: Can’t fund smoking ban cases

July 17, 2008
LISBON — With no funds to enforce the smoking ban in public places, the Columbiana County Health Board opted Wednesday to turn the program over to the state. “In no way does this mean the health department condones smoking,” board vice chairman Shawn Apple said, explaining the department just can’t implement the rules without funding. The county health district became one of 19 county departments to give the program back to the state. When asked when the turnover takes effect, Health Commissioner Robert Morehead said he would need to notify the Ohio Department of Health about the board’s action and ask their representative for more details. Morehead raised the issue with board members, saying if they decided to keep the program, they would need to form a committee to hear administrative appeals over complaints or hire an attorney to perform the function, which would be costly, considering the county gets no funding from the state for enforcement of the smoking ban. The county would get 90 percent of the fine money, but fines only total about $100 each. He also said a separate inspection of facilities would be required. The health department couldn’t just rely on the food sanitarians to do the work because the inspection has to be separate. He also pointed out that in the case of private clubs, the inspector would have to be buzzed in and by the time they got inside, all cigarettes would likely be extinguished. The health department doesn’t get any funding for school safety inspections, either, which are required, but Morehead said he considers those more valuable since the inspections can help keep students safe. In the case of the smoking ban, they’re trying to intervene in adult behavior. Mary Ann Greier can be reached at


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