Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wyoming state district judge strikes down Teton County, WY's ban

Not to also mention, the Wyoming Legislature also smartly rejected a 2011 bill that would've granted county commissioners and health boards the right to ban smoking. Why should health boards selfishly take away the property rights of ANY business that primarily caters to adults to make their own rules on smoking? (or by even entirely banning indoor smoking, if they want) It's bad enough that 4 communities in that state chose to ban smoking in all businesses including bars(Laramie, Cheyenne, Evanston, and , and that only 2 with smoking bans were smart enough to exempt bars and clubs from their ban(Rock Springs and Green River).

I know where I definitely want to travel to, if I ever head west....(and also Idaho, as their state ban doesn't cover bars/clubs(nor affect their ability to serve food, as both food and non-food bars can permit smoking), and that they have a low cig tax)

Court shoots down Teton County smoking ban

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - A district judge has shot down Teton County's ban on smoking in public places, saying the county's health board lacked the authority to enact 2009 rule.

District Judge Timothy Day said in his ruling Wednesday he could "only imagine that the individuals on the board who create the Smokefree Air Rule were motivated by legitimate public health concerns."

But it's clear the state Legislature never gave the Teton County District Board of Health authority to promulgate the rule, which had proposed criminal penalties for violators, Day wrote.

The ban had prohibited smoking in all public areas, including bars, restaurants and places of employment throughout the county, such as the resort area of Jackson Hole.

While Teton County didn't try to enforce the ban while the legal challenge was pending, most establishments there have implemented their own voluntary smoking bans.

The Legislature has defeated proposed statewide smoking bans in the past. A bill that would have given county health boards the authority to impose smoking bans has died in the current legislative session.

Voters in Cheyenne, Laramie and Evanston have enacted smoking bans. Voters in Casper have rejected a ban.

Day ruled in response to a lawsuit brought by the owners of The Virginian Saloon and associations representing contractors, truckers and the liquor industry.

Mike Kraft, general manager of The Virginian Saloon, said Thursday that the saloon has continued to allow smoking. He said other establishments in town have banned smoking on their own voluntarily.

Kraft said perhaps half the patrons of The Virginian Saloon smoke. He said it's possible the saloon would someday implement a smoking ban of its own, depending on what its customers prefer.

"It's like the judge said, they didn't have the enabling legislation," Kraft said of the health board. "To me, it was all about the legislation part of it; the board that passed it didn't have the legislation to do it, and if it could happen in one instance, it could set a precedent for something else."

Keith Gingery, a lawyer with Teton County, represented the health board. He's also a Republican state legislator.

Gingery said Thursday the board will have to determine whether to appeal Day's ruling. He said he's concerned the ruling could affect other board rules, such as its regulations on the operation of tattoo parlors.

Gingery said The Virginian Saloon was the only establishment in town that allowed smoking even before the ban.

"And that was part of the argument against it; why is government getting involved, when they had voluntarily abandoned it?"

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