Memo to disgruntled bar owners

Even if you don’t like Iowa’s public smoking ban, even if you think the smoking ban is unconstitutional, even if you have joined a lawsuit challenging the smoking ban, the smoking ban still applies to you.

Larry Duncan, owner of Otis Campbell’s Bar and Grill in West Burlington, learned that lesson today when his business became the first to lose its liquor license for failing to comply with the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. State Senator Tom Courtney hailed today’s action by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division in a statement released by the Iowa Senate Democrats (excerpt):

“This is a great day for restaurant and bar owners in our community who are playing the rules,” said State Senator Tom Courtney of Burlington. “This law protects the health of employees who don’t have a choice when they are forced to work in smoke-filled rooms. The overwhelming majority of employers in the state understand this and have complied with the law.”

The state decision leaves room for the liquor license to be restored sooner if Otis Cambpell’s agrees to the follow the law.

“I think that’s a reasonable compromise,” said Courtney. “It would send the wrong message to law-abiding Iowans if the state ignored a handful of business owners who are thumbing their nose at this new law.”

According to the Des Moines Register, Duncan is challenging the smoking ban in federal court. Other restaurant and bar owners have filed suit in Iowa. I think they are all wasting their money, as courts have upheld other state and local smoking bans, but they have every right to challenge the law. They do not have the right to flout the law in the meantime, though. Last summer a judge denied a request to suspend the smoking ban pending trial.

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