Opponents of public smoking ban see ruling as just a blip

Leaders of an effort to overturn Iowa’s public smoking ban say a judge’s ruling that allows enforcement while the case works its way through the courts represents only a temporary setback.

“Asking a judge to overturn the Legislature is no small task; we fully understand that,” said a press release issued by Choose Freedom Iowa, a coalition of bar owners. “Now we are looking forward to taking the next steps. We will pursue our full lawsuit to get all Iowans’ freedoms permanently restored.”

Polk County Judge Douglas Staskal on Monday rejected the group’s request to put the month-old ban on hold until a legal battle over its constitutionality is decided. Staskal said the bar owners failed to prove at a hearing last week that they would suffer irreparable financial harm if their customers were not allowed to light up.

“Accepting for the sake of argument that the smoking ban has destroyed one bar owner’s business, there is no evidence that the law has had this extreme a negative impact on bars and restaurants in general,” Staskal wrote.

George Eichhorn, attorney for the bar owners, and Wilton bar owner Brian Froelich argue in the press release that “small businesses should have the right to choose which way they want to operate their businesses.”

“No one should be forced to eat, drink or do business in a building that has smoking,” their press release said. “And no one should tell citizens where they can eat and drink if they choose to smoke in a business that chooses, as part of their own business model, to allow it.

“Unfortunately, these choices were ripped away by an overzealous and overreaching big brother government.”

Staskal’s ruling said lost business “can be remedied by the payment of the money” if the anti-ban forces prevail in court.

The American Cancer Society, meanwhile, applauded Staskal’s ruling.

“The courts have ruled time and again across the country that there is no constitutional right to smoke,” said Gretchen Tegeler, the organization’s Iowa vice president.

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3 Responses to “Opponents of public smoking ban see ruling as just a blip”

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