Complaints about smoking violations have generated some concerns among business owners. Wisconsin Health Department spokesperson Seth Boffeli says there are some misconceptions out there that letters sent from the agency to local taverns are a type of citation or fine for violations of the smoking ban. “It’s not an enforcement mechanism. It’s not an official warning. What’s input on there … it’s inactionable.”
Boffeli says state health officials understand that there could be some false complaints coming into the compliance hotline from disgruntled ex-employees or patrons. However, he says the health department simply sends out a letter offering help in compliance with the new law. Some business owners want an opportunity to rebut.
“I don’t know that there’s a need to rebut.” He says, “You could say that ‘This is the fifth letter and we’re abiding by the law I think that somebody’s trying to take advantage of me,’ and we can certainly flag that in our system.”
Boffeli says if an establishment was sent multiple letters due to complaints, local law enforcement could look into violations, but he says, they’d have to see evidence before they could take action. Calls to the hotline have been minimal. Boffeli says his department only got 89 complaints in the first week and 29 in the second week the smoking ban was in effect. (800)-NO-SMOKE.