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Colorado’s Smoking Ban Upheld

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U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Babcock yesterday upheld Colorado’s new smoking ban. In ruling against the bar owners that brought the suit, Judge Babcock found that the law’s distinction between casinos and airport lounges, where smoking is allowed, and bars, where it is not, are not irrational or unfair.

The plaintiff’s attorney said the ruling failed to recognize the ban treats similar groups differently. He said no decision had been made on an appeal. Babcock also rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments that the ban unfairly made bar owners criminally liable for actions by their patrons, that the ban’s penalties were vague and that the ban infringes on their property rights.

Babcock wrote, “It is not the role of federal judges to substitute their policy judgments for those of state legislatures.” The lawyer for the losing plaintiffs says, “”If there’s a role for the judiciary, it’s to be a check on the tyranny of the majority.” I fail to see a rational distinction between casinos and airport smoking lounges and bars. Employees are subjected to second hand smoke in all of them. Why can’t bars have a “smoking lounge” if they install the proper ventilation equipment?

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