Omaha Smoking Ban Violators to be Reported Via 911 Call [10/10/06-3]
Excerpts from: Violators To Be Reported
WOWT TV [10/06/06]
Omaha's new smoking ban does not go into effect until Monday, but some are
already questioning a police directive that could strain city resources.
Jobber's Canyon, a restaurant and brewery in the Old Market, is just one of the thousands of city businesses where people will not be allowed to smoke as of Monday.
But police say if you see someone smoking there, or anywhere else where it's not allowed, you should call 9-1-1. To some Omaha residents, that just doesn't add up.
"I think it will be a strain on the system," Jobber's Canyon's Ryan Bertucci says.
Bertucci is also frustrated that the ban gives five-year exemptions to stand-alone bars, bars with KENO and Horseman's Park. But he says, as far as enforcement is concerned, most businesses will handle it in house.
"There's part of customer service--we need to work with our clients and appreciate the fact that we're abiding by the laws and we need to enforce them," he said.
But what happens if a customer does call 9-1-1?
The smoking violation would come in as a "Priority 3" call, which is low on the emergency chain. That means police officers will respond when they have time, possibly taking an hour or more. Similar calls include accidents where no one is injured.
Mark Welsch of GASP of Nebraska says, "A few weeks from now, this is going to be old news."
Welsch has been spearheading a smoking ban for years. Even though he agrees with OPD's directive to call 9-1-1, he says he does not expect many people to follow it.
"The vast majority of this will be handled by the business owner," Welsch said. "Ask them to put out the cigarette, and if they refuse, they'll ask them to leave."
Under the new law, businesses that violate the smoking ban get a warning the first time. For more information about the law, including a complete list of businesses where smoking is still allowed.
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