Protect Local Control

Ensuring Community Rights
To Pass Smokefree Ordinances

News Summary

Assembly may amend smoking ban as judge broadens its scope

Publication Date: 2005-04-01
  • Publication:Providence (RI) Journal-Bulletin
General Assembly leaders hinted yesterday that they might amend the state's new smoking ban to remove the exemptions for some small bars and private clubs.

The move came just hours after a Superior Court judge ruled that such exemptions are unconstitutional.

Judge Stephen J. Fortunato Jr. said there was no rational reason to prohibit smoking in some bars while exempting a group of almost identical bars from the ban. He issued a temporary order yesterday afternoon, essentially saying that smoking in the private clubs and bars must halt immediately.

The decision was a victory for bar and restaurant owners, as well as health advocates, who had been calling for a level playing field.

A more in-depth hearing on the issue is scheduled April 11 at 9:30 a.m. in Newport County Superior Court. That hearing would be moot if lawmakers strip the exemptions.