Smoking Ban Lawsuit Filed

By: Katherine Cook
By: Katherine Cook

The bill is already signed, but now the new law banning smoking in public places in Colorado could be put on hold. Thursday, a smoking-rights coalition and local tavern filed a federal lawsuit seeking to declare the law unconstitutional. Now, even if the law stands firm, the date it takes effect may be much later than July 1. The Coalition For Equal Rights and Spirit Keeper Tavern in Black Forest are the plaintiffs in the case. Will Pelz, owner of Will's Sports Bar, says he supports the lawsuit.
"I'd like to see the court rule in our favor," said Pelz. "I'd like to see the people vote on it (the smoking issue) rather than the legislators."
Bar owner Shari Warren runs Spirit Keeper and helped spearhead the lawsuit. Warren's lawyer advised her not to talk to KKTV Thursday. However when I spoke with Warren in April, she told me the coalition's main goal in filing the lawsuit was to stop the state from telling them what to do in their private business. Warren's lawyer Joseph Becker says another reason for the lawsuit is equal protection.
"Certain entities were exempt from the smoking ban, casinos for example," said Becker.
Still, some non-smokers like Theo Reiter welcome the ban, citing it's benefits.
"Not going home smelling like smoke," said Becker. "And of course, not breathing it everyday."
But what some bar owners say they feel breathing, is the state down their necks.
"Does the state have to get in and legislate everything in our lives?" Said Pelz.
Those filing the lawsuit have asked the court not to take longer than 2 weeks to grant their request for a temporary restraining order. That would keep the smoking ban from being enforced while the lawsuit is pending.

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