Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nebraska officials want court to enforce smoking ban

I dunno how anyone expects a court to enforce a smoking ban. Aint dere more serious issues out here dat courts need to be worried about?

Asking a court to enforce a smoking ban is like someone expecting a court to act as a nanny. If people are smoking in bars or any hospitality joint, it ain't the end of the world.

A court shouldn't be business owners' nanny. Owners can make their own f'kin decisions on how to keep their customers happy.

******************************************** ap/financialnews /D9DEQTNO0. htm

State officials have asked a court to step in and force a thrice-cited Broken Bow bar owner to comply with a statewide smoking ban.

Although the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has received dozens of complaints of smoking-ban violations since the law took effect June 1, officials say this is the first time they've resorted to such enforcement measures.

Sylvester's Bar & Lounge owner Henry "Fred" Schumacher is accused of violating the Nebraska Clean Indoor Act, which bans smoking inside all public buildings and private businesses, including bars and restaurants.

Schumacher declined to comment on the case and refused to identify his attorney to speak on his behalf. Custer County District Court officials say Schumacher doesn't have an attorney on file.

A Feb. 4 hearing is set in the case.

Statewide, officials have received 134 complaints of smoking-ban violations through Friday, including 45 complaints received in June alone.

Most of the complaints came from outside Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island and Humboldt, where smoking bans were previously in effect, HHS spokeswoman Marla Augustine said.

Eight complaints have been received about Sylvester's Bar, she said. They led to three citations for Schumacher. Court documents show Schumacher was fined a total of $500.

Cigar bars, some hotel rooms, tobacco-only retailers, facilities that research the health effects of smoking and private homes are exempt from the law.

Those exemptions are at the center of arguments made by the owner of an Omaha pool hall, who has a pending lawsuit against the state. Among other things, an attorney for Big John's Billiards owner Will Prout argues the exceptions make the ban unconstitutional.

In June, a Lancaster County district judge denied Prout's initial request to stop the law from taking effect.

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