Californians haven’t been allowed to light up at work since 1995. And voters banned smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos three years later.
Still, the county’s health department is still fielding enough complaints from residents fed up with second-hand smoke that officials recently posted instructions for how to report violations of the law on their website.
Since 1998, the Tobacco Use Prevention Program has fielded well over 3,000 complaints and resolved 95 percent of them through voluntary compliance, education, and occasionally with help from city code or law enforcement, says Health Care Agency spokeswoman Tricia Landquist. The program averages about two to three calls a week.
A list of who’s getting cited and the outcomes was not immediately available.
No OC business has ever been shut down because people are lighting up. But when the cops do get involved, businesses are faced with fines. The first offense is $100 plus court costs, $200 for second-time offenders, and $500 for a third violation. Plus, CAL-OSHA — the state agency that ensures workplace safety, becomes involved. And that agency can pursue even larger penalties if police cite and convict a business three times in a year.
So how do you complain? Call 714-541-1444 if you speak English or Spanish, or 714-834-6645 if you speak Vietnamese. Calls can be anonymous.
After you complain, the health department sends the business a letter and some educational information about how to comply with the law and who to call if they have questions. But, HCA has no authority to enforce smoking laws. Instead, if law enforcement becomes involved, they can offer guidance about the law.
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