The Village Board will consider adopting the state’s smoking ban at a meeting Tuesday so that the Village can enforce the law at a municipal level.
John Barnes, who was the interim Police Chief at the time, asked for the authority to enforce the law at a municipal level to have uniformity between neighboring communities, to have cases heard in municipal court and so that the Village could collect part of the fine money.
The state law, which went into effect in July, prohibits smoking in “restaurants, taverns, private clubs, or retail establishments” and allows those entities “to designate an outside smoking area within a reasonable distance from any entrance to the establishment,” according to a Wisconsin Department of Justice memo dated July 2, 2010.
Currently the law is enforced at the state level, which means those cases would be prosecuted by the Racine County District Attorney’s office. If the Village Board adopts the state law, the Village would receive 50 percent of the base fine and the rest would go to the state. If adopted, the citation for violating the law would carry a $366 fine. The citation could be handed to the smoker and/or the tavern owner.
Police Chief Toby Schey said adopting the law on the local level also makes the law easier to enforce, but they have no plans on doing undercover investigations.
“If we get complaints and we observe violations, it’s a lot easier for it to go through municipal court,” Schey said.
Still, Schey believes the Police Department and tavern owners can work together on the issue.
“As complaints come up, we are going to take a more proactive approach,” Schey said. “We are willing to work with bars and will be advising them if we get complaints, I know they need the business, but we also have to enforce the law.”
Schey said the department has received a complaint of one tavern where patrons were smoking in the bar.
“It’s one of those tough things, but it’s probably for the good of everyone,” Schey said.