Jan. 28, 2004
Oswego County Approves Smoking Ban Waiver Policy
The Oswego County Legislature's Health Committee has finalized a policy for applying for waivers to the state's Clean Indoor Air Act. The committee approved a $25 application fee for waivers Jan. 26. The county health department is responsible for enforcing the law.
The state's Clean Indoor Air Act took effect July 24, 2003.
"As with all our other programs, we are looking for voluntary compliance to the law," said Commissioner of Health Services Kathleen Smith. "Bars and restaurants are responsible for complying with the Clean Indoor Air Act unless they receive a waiver."
According to the policy adopted by the Oswego County Board of Health, a business must show a 15 percent loss of revenue since the smoking ban took effect in order to claim financial hardship as a result of the law.
"The state requires that sales tax records be provided," Smith said. "We're not requiring a CPA report, but we have to have something that shows how the business has been impacted. That's part of the law."
Business owners must also submit a written plan and a diagram showing where smoking areas would be located, and how the effects of indoor smoking on customers and employees would be alleviated. Waivers are for a two-year period and are not transferable if the business changes hands.
Waivers may also be granted to businesses who invested in equipment, such as a ventilation system, that provided a smoke-free environment before the law took effect and who are unable to recover their costs.
Applications will first be reviewed by a county committee and then referred to the board of health for approval or denial.
"We will do our best to have a quick turnaround," said Natalie Roy, associate public health sanitarian for the health department.
The health department has received approximately 70 requests for waivers since last July. The department has also received about 90 complaints of businesses violating the law by allowing people to smoke indoors. Warning letters have been sent to several businesses and organizations that were in violation. The health department is in the process of issuing fines to owners who have previously violated the law.
Members of the Legislature's Health Committee include Legislator John Proud, District 7 (Mexico), chairman; Barbara Brown, District 8 (Pennellville); Douglas Malone, District 20 (Oswego Town); Leonard Ponzi, District 17 (Oswego, Oswego Town); Francis Hoefer, District 19 (Minetto, Granby, Oswego Town); and Arthur Ospelt, District 12 (Schroeppel).
To receive an application packet, contact the County Division of Environmental Health, 70 Bunner St., Oswego, phone 349-3557 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3557.
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