Health Department fines South Side bingo hall

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The Allegheny County Health Department has fined a South Side bingo operator for violating the County's new smoking ordinance.

The Lithuanian National Society on Jane Street was fined $16,250 for failing to adopt and implement a workplace smoking policy and allowing 65 people to smoke at its bingo on March 21.

The ordinance prohibits smoking in all workplaces and public places, except restaurants and bars, which are exempt under a court order until May 1.

Because the society employs people to work at its bingo and does not use only non-paid volunteers, it is a workplace and does not qualify for an exemption under the smoking ordinance as a volunteer organization.

The club received a warning letter Feb. 23 after numerous complaints were made about people smoking at its bingo, according to a Health Department statement. The Health Department conducted an on-site investigation March 21.

The club was cited for 65 smoking violations, since each lit cigarette constitutes a violation. As permitted during the ordinance's initial 180 days, a warning was given for the first violation but the club was fined the required $250 for each of the remaining 64 smoking violations plus an additional $250 for not having a workplace smoking policy.

Because the individuals violating the ordinance were all first-time offenders, they were given warnings and told they would be fined for any subsequent violations.

Since the ordinance took effect Jan. 2, the Health Department has received 129 smoking complaints from the public and issued warning letters to 37 facilities.

Smoking is prohibited not only in public places and workplaces but also within five feet of any building exit or entrance and within 15 feet of any exit or entrance to a hospital or health care facility.

While smoking may be permitted at fundraisers staffed by volunteers, no minors are allowed on the premises. Volunteer organizations are asked to submit a notification form to the Health Department for fundraisers that are exempt events.

Violations of the smoking ordinance may be reported on the Health Department's web site,, or by calling 412-687-ACHD.


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