Bowling Green American Legion post tests smoking ban, is fined

An American Legion post in Bowling Green has been fined $25 for violating the city’s no-smoking ordinance. The Bowling Green Code Enforcement Board decided unanimously Tuesday to uphold the citation that Post 23 received April 28 after two plainclothed police officers went into the facility during bingo night and found people smoking inside, Justin Story of the Bowling Green Daily News reports.

Officers Tammy Britt and Rebecca Robins testified they bought two sheets of bingo cards and a soda at the facility. They said they were not asked at any point if they were members of the Post. The city’s smoking ordinance “defines private organizations as establishments that are exempt from federal income taxes, are not profit-oriented, maintain a selective membership that operates the organization and does not sell food, drinks, entertainment or lodging to anyone who is not a member or a member’s guest,” Story reports.

More members started to smoke after Jim Manley, the Post’s chief finance officer, told the crowd they were free to do so. “He said that if a citation were issued it would be to (the post) and not the individual, and after that more people started smoking,” Britt said. The citation indicates the facility violated three provisions of the ordinance: allowing smoking in a building/enclosed area; failure to remove ashtrays; and failure of owner or person in control to ensure compliance.

Malcolm Cherry, an officer of Post 23, “said that he wanted it to be cited by allowing smoking during charitable gaming on April 28 in an effort to prove it was exempt,” Story reports. “Our whole intention was for the officers to be there and have the citation issue to us personally,” Cherry said. City Attorney Gene Harmon argued the post does not meet all the criteria to be considered a private club, in part because it sells bingo cards and refreshments during bingo night. The board agreed. (Read more)
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