Friday, October 1, 2010

Where are Marge Schott and Jerry Springer when you need them?

The Cincinnati Health Department will investigate the Cincinnati Reds for violations of the state smoking ban after people complained players smoked cigars indoors while celebrating their National League Central Division title Tuesday night.

A lot of players could be seen on TV smoking the cigars, and Reds owner Bob Castellini was passing them out. But video doesn't affect the investigation - the health inspector has to actually see someone smoking, said Rocky Merz, health department spokesman.
Five people called a statewide smoking ban complaint hotline, Merz said. Those complaints were sent to the city health department today for investigation. Castellini will get letter soon notifying him of the alleged violation.

State law requires a health inspector to go out within 30 days at about the same time of day as the alleged violation, Merz said. That means an inspector might be attending one of the playoff games to see if anyone is smoking then.

"We come in unannounced, obviously," he said.

If the inspector sees someone smoking, the Reds will be sent a letter notifying them of the violation, which the team can appeal. No fine is attached to any initial violation. If another complaint is filed and an inspector responds again to the ballpark and sees someone smoking, the Reds could be fined $100. The fine escalates to $500 after that.

In some investigations, inspectors can interview witnesses. That won't work this time because all the complaints were anonymous, Merz said.
Terry Evans, who oversees riverfront operations for the county, said he wasn’t aware of the smoking complaints therefore could not comment.
The Reds declined to comment, team spokesman Rob Butcher said.

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