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State appeals judge's ruling nixing smoking ban exceptions

Publication Date: 2011-01-27
  • Publication:Lincoln Journal Star

So long, cigar bars and hotel smoking rooms.


A Lincoln judge has ruled that certain exceptions to the statewide smoking ban -- specifically those that allow smoking in cigar bars, tobacco stores and some hotel rooms -- are unconstitutional special treatment for those businesses.

The state filed notice Thursday morning that it will appeal the case.

Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh introduced the 2009 bill that exempted cigar bars from the ban. Exceptions for tobacco shops and hotel rooms were included in the statewide smoking ban that went into effect June 1, 2009, as was an exception for research facilities.

In this week's order, in response to a lawsuit by an Omaha billiards hall, Lancaster County District Judge Jodi Nelson said she agrees with the exception for research facilities but that cigar bars, tobacco shops and hotels aren't different enough from other indoor worksites so as to deserve exemption.

"While this may be a terrific marketing tool, there is nothing ... to explain why employees of these facilities or members of the public who enter them should be extended less protection from the harms of smoking/secondhand smoke," the order says, specifically addressing tobacco stores.

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