Smoking Ban

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 5, 2010

No-smoking rule lights up meeting

By Jason C. Mattox

The only smoke coming from a city-owned vehicle in Batesville better be coming from the tailpipe, not out the window, city aldermen said Tuesday.  

Batesville’s smoking ban becomes effective today and includes all public buildings (restaurants, etc.), businesses and city property including public parks.

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During Tuesday’s meeting, aldermen added to the ordinance by making it illegal to smoke in city-owned vehicles.

Aldermen adopted a no smoking ordinance last month but did not outline penalties for employee violations.

The board vote, prompted by a motion from Alderman Stan Harrison, was unanimous.

“We need to know what we are supposed to do about the employees that we find smoking in the vehicles or the buildings,” Treatment Plant Superintendent David Karr said. “Right now, we don’t know what we should do.”

Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger initially said city employees found violating the ordinance should face the same fines as anyone else.

Those fines are:

First offense: $500

Second offense: $750

Third offense: $1,000

Ward 3 Alderman Stan Harrison said the city would need to designate smoking areas on public property.

Harrison suggested that supervisors be given the option to give employees an initial warning.

“I don’t see how we can warn the employees, when we aren’t going to warn anyone else,” Dugger replied.

Harrison said he intended to warn customers at his restaurant before calling to report the violation.

“If someone lights a cigarette in the restaurant, I will ask them to put it out first,” he said. “If they say hell no, I would have to call the police for non-compliance.”

Karr said supervisors would need to use their best judgment when dealing with the violations.

“I was a smoker up until ’91, and I know that you can have an occasional ‘oops’ where you forget,” he said. “I know we will have that happen, and we need to have some flexibility.”

Dugger agreed that the “flexibility” would be a good thing for superintendents.

“I think the superintendent should be given the chance to give an initial warning if they feel it was an honest mistake, but if it seems deliberate then it could constitute a violation,” he said.

After much discussion aldermen determined the following penalties for employee violations:

First offense: one day suspension without pay unless supervisor issues an initial warning.

Second offense: Two days suspension without pay.

Third offense: Termination.

“Those suspensions should equal up to as much as the fines we would issue to anyone else,” Dugger said.