Colorado AG Asks State Smoking Ban Lawsuit Be Dismissed [06/23/06-4]
Excerpts from: AG Asks Smoking Ban Lawsuit Be Dismissed
The Denver Channel [06/22/06]
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers wants a federal court to throw out a lawsuit filed by those seeking to stop a statewide smoking ban from taking effect on July 1.
In his motion filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday, Suthers argued The Coalition for Equal Rights Inc. and Black Forest tavern-owner Shari Warren sued the wrong people.
The lawsuit names as defendants Gov. Bill Owens, other state officials and district attorneys across the state. It claims the law is unfair because it exempts casinos, cigar bars, the smoking lounge at Denver International Airport and private workplaces with three employees or less.
But Suthers' motion argued that the defendants don't have the authority to prevent the law from going into effect or to enforce it.
A hearing is scheduled for Friday on the coalition's request for a temporary restraining order, which, if granted, would prevent the law from going into effect until the lawsuit is resolved.
The Coalition for Equal Rights includes more than 500 bar owners, bowling alleys, billiard halls, liquor stores, restaurants, fraternal orders and other groups and individuals.
Bar owners contend the law passed by the Legislature this session and signed into law by Owens will discourage smokers from visiting them and hurt their business.
Jim Vonfeldt, the owner of Billy's Inn, is concerned that under the law, businesses may be held criminally liable for the independent criminal acts of members of the general public.
"Suppose somebody comes in here and lights up a cigarette. I ask them to put it out and they say, 'No,'" said Vonfeldt. "They fine the employee, (and) they fine the owner and we're all in trouble, but the guy committing the crime is gone."
As the smoking issue heads to court, Smoke Free Colorado is providing materials to educate business owners about the impending ban.
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