Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

July 9, 2013

Miami commissioner wants crackdown on ashtrays

State says county cigarette receptacles too close to courthouse doors.

By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — PERU — A Miami County commissioner wants a county-wide crackdown on businesses violating state code dictating where cigarette receptacles may be placed after the state issued a complaint saying the Miami County Courthouse was violating the law.

Commissioner Jerry Hamman said the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission issued a complaint to the county, saying ashtrays by the courthouse doors were within the 8-foot area where smoking is prohibited.

“Since we had a complaint from the state, I think we need to go around to all the businesses in town with cigarette dispensers and show them the law,” he said.

Hamman asked environmental health specialist Ken Scott to inspect where businesses locate their cigarette butt receptacles. He asked for a report by next week documenting places violating the law.

Scott said he normally investigates a specific business only if there’s a complaint against it.

Commissioners said they were leery, however, of issuing fines to violators. Commissioner Josh Francis said fines or penalties are left up to the person responding to the violation.

“I’m a little concerned about throwing out fines for this, because some business will say, ‘Forget it. We just won’t have one at all,’” Francis said. “Then people are throwing cigarettes on the ground … I think a lot of places have tried to stick [receptacles] beneath an overhang so they’re not out in the weather.”

Commissioners said they also will look at the county’s smoking ordinance, which states smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of government building doors.

They said they will consider changing the ordinance to mirror state code, which only requires an 8-foot distance from doors.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.