by Matt FredmonskyReporterBar and restaurant owners who still permit smoking in their establishments are about two months away from possibly receiving fines.Last Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health submitted draft rules to the secretary of state outlining the formal process for enforcing the anti-smoking law as approved by voters last fall.Kristopher Weiss, a spokesman for the department of health, said the draft rules submitted last week begin the formal process of actually adopting enforcement rules for the indoor smoking ban."These are not final," he noted, adding the filing kicks off a series of bureaucratic steps that will lead to finalizing the rules in a little more than two months.The ODH filed the draft rules with the state Legislative Service Commission. A 65-day process will follow in which time is allowed for public comment, and a public hearing and final hearing will take place by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review."If JCARR does not move to invalidate, the rules will take effect 10 days afterward," Weiss said. "Then enforcement can begin."Weiss did not specify if the process is restricted to working days excluding weekends. He did say the rule review committee has some leeway in scheduling its final hearing date."We're hoping to have the rules in place in April," he said.According to a press release issued by the ODH, nearly 4,000 Ohio residents submitted comments for the enforcement rules. The health department will continue to solicit comments with a series of public hearings.The first public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. at the William Green Building, 30 W. Spring St., Columbus. People interested in attending are asked to pre-register with the ODH.Comments also may be mailed to the ODH, 246 N. High St., Columbus 43215 or faxed to 614-728-7813.Since the smoking ban took effect Dec. 7, the ODH has received more than 32,000 inquiries about the new law and about 10,000 reports of violations. Currently, the ODH is not issuing fines for violators, but is instead mailing a letter about how to comply with the law.Editor's note: Fredmonsky is a reporter for the Record-Courier.