Smoking ban working smoothly in Oxford

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bar owners and others say Oxford’s new smoking ban has been implemented smoothly with few enforcement problems.

“Everybody’s complying,” Scott Caradine, owner of Proud Larrys, said of the ban that took effect in November. “They walk outside or go on the porch to smoke.”

The city’s smoking ordinance is largely drawn from the model promoted by the American Lung Association, which bans smoking in most public places, including city buildings, retail stores, bars and restaurants.

Smoking is permitted at bars and restaurants that have balconies, patios or porches that are uncovered. If more than half of the perimeter of these areas are walled or partially covered or closed to the outside then smoking is not be permitted in those areas.

Assistant Police Chief Mike Martin said violation has to occur in front of an officer or enough probable cause has to exist to write a citation based on witness statements only. Martin said thus far, his department has not written any citations for smoking ban violations.

If someone is caught, first-time violators are fined $50. The second offense can bring up to a $250 fine.

Businesses that do not comply with the ordinance will receive a $100 fine for the first offense and $200 for the second violation within one year. For each additional violation, the business owner will be fined $500.

“As far as I know, everyone is complying,” Martin said. “We’ve hardly received any complaints.”

He said one of the few complaints the department has received involved people smoking while standing outside near an entrance to a bar.

“They aren’t violating any law so there is nothing we can do,” he said. “Bars are really the only place where we see that happening.”

Mills Hawkins, manager of Parrish Baker Pub, said he hasn’t had any problem with smokers since the ban.

“There’s the occasional drunk guy who forgets and lights up but once we say something, they go outside,” Hawkins said.