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County Restaurants Must Post Smoking-Policy Signs Commissioners Pass Ordinance 2-1 After Legal Changes; Harris Dissents

Wed., Dec. 4, 1996, midnight

Spokane County restaurant owners need to add smoking-policy signs to their businesses next month.

County commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to approve an ordinance similar to one already imposed by the city of Spokane and other municipalities.

The ordinance affects about 400 restaurants in unincorporated areas of the county. In 30 days, they must have a sign that tells customers the business is either smoke-free, permits smoking in designated areas or allows smoking anywhere.

Commissioners first approved the ordinance nearly eight weeks ago, then asked their attorney to safeguard it from legal challenges.

The recommended changes were minor, except for making the county planning department responsible for enforcement of the ordinance. Initially, the county Health District was to be in charge of enforcing the law.

Commissioner Phil Harris voted against the measure. Commissioners John Roskelley and Steve Hasson supported it.

Harris said he felt the ordinance created extra costs but didn’t provide any revenue to pay for the added work. He also worried that the enforcement department - the county’s planning office - and the health district had not coordinated their respective functions.

“You can’t have the horse pull a wagon before you have a horse,” Harris said, explaining his no vote.

County attorney Jim Emacio said the ordinance provides for some indirect revenue. Owners who fail to provide the signs, or those who have the signs and don’t comply with their conditions, face fines of up to $100 per violation.

The health district has the responsibility of contacting restaurant owners and providing the signs. It also has the job of educating the public on what the signs mean.

The rectangular signs - roughly 4-by-4 inches each - will be color-coded. Green means no smoking anywhere, yellow means smoking only in designated areas. Red means smoking anywhere.

, DataTimes

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