County says it won’t use undercover tactics to enforce ban | Archives


ELKDALE ã The Cattaraugus County Health Department will enforce the Indoor Air Quality Act which takes effect July 24, but will not use infiltration agents.

Director of Public Health Barbara J. Hastings told health board members Wednesday that the department’s environmental health unit will track complaints and send someone to investigate if the complaints appear to have merit.

“We will not send people undercover,” she told board members. Existing staff will handle complaints, she added. ßWe expect voluntary compliance.à

Earlier this year, the state legislature approved an indoor smoking ban in all public places, including restaurants, bars and clubs. This has sparked protests from tavern and restaurant owners who fear a loss of business due to the ban.

Ms Hastings said food inspectors will be on the lookout for evidence of smoking when carrying out periodic inspections of food establishments.

Environmental Health Director Eric Wohlers said the department will soon be sending out a Clean Indoor Act information pack to facilities across the county. The companies have yet to receive any notification from the state, he said.

Next Monday, the Department of Health will participate in a meeting with the Cattaraugus County Tobacco Control Coalition at the John Ash Community Center in Olean. It will mainly consist of a question-and-answer session.

“It will not be used as a forum to debate the law,” Wohlers stressed. A similar meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at Ellicottville Central School.

Companies throughout the department have been informed of the meetings.

IN OTHER BUSINESS:

n The board heard Director of Patient Services Susan Andrews explain that the health department is still looking for temporary replacement office space for the Machias office, located in the stone house of the county nursing home. Five public health nurses and two environmental health workers work there.

n Mr Wohlers said there are currently no plans to spray insecticide to control mosquitoes as the number of insects found in the traps does not warrant spraying at this time. Earlier aerial spraying of larvicide to control mosquito larvae and cool weather combined to keep mosquitoes under control.

n The council has heard that no cases of birds carrying West Nile virus have been detected in the county by the state health department laboratory. Sixteen birds, mostly crows, were sent for testing.

n The council heard plans for expanded testing of wells in the Machias area where high levels of nitrites have led to a warning that infants do not drink water from municipal wells.

n Ms. Hastings said that with more than a dozen department employees vaccinated against smallpox, ß We are prepared should anything happen. We can respond to

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