Monday, September 8, 2008

Smokers defy regulators in the Mountain State

More than in most places, the smoking ban in Kanawha County, West Virginia, is running into grassroots resistance. Reports The Charleston Gazette:

There's a file at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department marked "The Blitz."

Health inspectors planned to fan out across Kanawha County one night last month and check bars and gambling parlors for smoking violations.

However, "The Blitz" was called off. Someone had warned the bar owners about the expected sweep.

So proponents of personal choice apparently have somebody inside the Health Department tipping them off.

The Health Department fielded 65 complaints during the past two months, and handed out 14 warnings.

"We get three or four complaints on one place, but we go out there and don't find anything," said Anita Ray, the department's environmental director. "Either we're not catching them at the right time, or maybe it's just a bar owner with a grudge against a competitor, or maybe they're just trying to run us."

Opponents of the law are apparently phoning in bogus tips and/or using the law to settle scores against competitors.

At the Blackhawk Saloon in Charleston, the bartender called bar owner, Kerry "Paco" Ellison, after a Health Department sanitarian paid a visit two weeks ago.

Ellison instructed the bartender to light up a cigarette, according to the inspection report. The sanitarian gave a warning notice to the bartender, who promptly tore it up at Ellison's request.

"We know Mr. Ellison is chomping at the bit to go to court," Ray said.

And some businesses are overtly flipping the bird to enforcers.

This country was built by people who didn't let government officials boss them around. It's good to see that some of that spirit survives.

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Blogger The Editor said...

Few things are more powerful than grassroots civil disobedience.

September 8, 2008 9:03 PM  
Anonymous claude said...

Smoking bans were made to be broken. Keep up the good fight.

September 9, 2008 9:10 AM  

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