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News Summary

Judge considers smoking challenge

Publication Date: 2009-08-06
  • Author:Martha Stoddard
  • Publication:Omaha World Herald

A Lancaster County judge heard arguments today about whether to dismiss a challenge to Nebraska's smoking ban.

District Court Judge Jodi Nelson made no immediate ruling on the request, made by attorneys for the state. She said she would decide the case after receiving legal briefs from both sides.

Big John's Billiards, an Omaha pool hall, filed the challenge against the state law banning smoking in public buildings and workplaces. The company argues that exemptions to the ban are arbitrary and amount to special legislation in violation of the Nebraska Constitution. It also argued that the ban would harm the pool hall's business.

Nebraska's smoking ban now exempts tobacco shops, some hotel rooms, laboratories used for research on smoking and home-based businesses. Starting Aug. 30, it will also exempt specially licensed cigar bars.

Such bars have to get 10 percent of their revenue from cigar and other tobacco sales, except cigarettes. They must have a walk-in humidor for storing cigars and seek a special license from the Liquor Control Commission.

Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Lynn Melson argued today that the challenge should be dismissed because of the state's sovereign immunity.

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