Thirteen people were cited Thursday evening for smoking in three Columbia bars.
Based on ongoing complaints, the officials from Columbia/Boone County Health Department visited four bars Thursday evening looking for violations of the smoking ordinance, said Gerry Worley, environmental health manager.
The health department went to The Blue Fugue, Hide A Way Club, The Tiger Club and TP’s Bar & Grill on Rain Forest Parkway. People were smoking at all of the bars except TP’s, Worley said. The health department then contacted the Columbia Police Department, which issued citations to these individuals.
Stephen Monticelli, West District commander of the Columbia Police Department, said 13 people received citations: four at Hide A Way Club, four at The Tiger Club and five at The Blue Fugue. He said all citations were issued between 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Reports were not filed immediately, so names had not yet been released.
The health department has been receiving complaints about these bars since the smoking ordinance passed, Worley said. He said locations that receive complaints are more likely to be visited than a place that hasn’t received any.
Joel Thiel, owner of Otto’s Corner Bar & Grill and a strong opponent of the ordinance, thinks that the enforcement of the city statute is faulty. He doesn’t like that people who have never set foot in his bar can call the health department and make a complaint. He said the decision to go smoke-free should be left up to private business owners.
The smoking ordinance, which passed on Oct. 9, 2006, and went into effect on Jan. 9, prohibits smoking in public places such as restaurants and bars. The ordinance says that violators can be fined up to $200.