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News Summary

Judge declines to put smoking ban on hold

Publication Date: 8/4/2008
  • Author:JEFF ECKHOFF
  • Publication:Des Moines Register

A Polk County judge today decided not to block state health officials from future enforcement of a month-old anti-smoking law.

A statewide coalition of bar owners contended in a Polk County lawsuit that the Iowa Smokefree Air Act is unconstitutional because it infringes on the rights of bar owners and turns them into an enforcement arm of the state.

Three bar owners testified at a hearing Friday that business has dropped off substantially since the ban on public smoking took effect July 1...

Judge Douglas Staskal, however, ruled that the bar owners' claims of loss did not warrant putting the law on hold.

Similar court battles have not gone well for smoking proponents. In 2006, a federal judge in Colorado rejected a challenge to that state's smoking ban and ruled that Colorado legislators had a rational basis to exclude casinos, as Iowa law does.

Studies submitted as evidence show that smoking bans help businesses overall, Assistant Iowa Attorney Jeffrey Thompson said, and that "over time, good businesses thrive."