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State high court approves smoking ban

Publication Date: 2007-02-06
  • Author:KEN DIXON
  • Publication:Connecticut Post

The state Supreme Court on Monday snuffed out a challenge to the state's smoking ban in restaurants and bars, upholding Connecticut's landmark, multiyear effort to clean the air in public work places.

In a 4-1 decision, with former Chief Justice William J. Sullivan dissenting, the high court said it was legal for the General Assembly to exclude private clubs and the two tribal casinos from the 2003 law.

Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille said the smoking ban does not violate the equal-protection provisions of the Constitution, ruling in favor of the state Department of Public Health, which was the defendant.

"Specifically, the plaintiffs' claim that, although the stated purpose of the ban was to remove secondhand smoke from workplaces, the ban was imposed on certain businesses, and not others, based on the type of liquor permit issued to the business, and this, the plaintiffs argue, bears no relationship to the nature of the workplace conditions," Vertefeuille wrote.

She also wrote that the defendants' argument that exempting private clubs from the ban was justified because such clubs are not open to the public and members may have joined the clubs and paid their membership fees expecting that they would be able to smoke in the clubs.