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High court will hear appeal on Nebraska smoking ban exceptions

Publication Date: 2011-02-04
  • Publication:Lincoln Journal Star

The Nebraska Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of exceptions to the statewide smoking ban for cigar bars, tobacco stores and hotels.

A Lincoln judge ruled against the exceptions last month in response to a complaint by Big John's Billiards, an Omaha pool hall that challenged the fairness of the 2009 Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act.

In her Jan. 25 order, Lancaster County District Judge Jodi Nelson ruled that the exemptions violated the state's ban on special legislation. She said the act gave special treatment to businesses that provide no better protection for employees or the public than others in which smoking is banned.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning's office has appealed the ruling on behalf of the state, but it was unclear until Thursday that the Supreme Court would take the case.

The court has given Bruning's office until April 18 to file a brief in support of its appeal.

Legislators included the exemptions for tobacco stores and hotels when they passed the act in 2009. A later bill created the exemption for cigar bars.

Those in favor of the exceptions have argued that the nature of cigar bars, tobacco stores and hotels are different than those of businesses covered by the ban.

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