Smoking bans are sweeping the nation, either state-by-state or city-by-city. This patchwork approach has led to more than a few learning experiences. In Arizona, for instance, prior to the statewide ban taking effect the first smoking ban was imposed by the city of Tempe. This proved to be disastrous to the city’s tax coffers, as smokers simply migrated in all directions (Phoenix to the West, Scottsdale to the North, Chandler to the South and Mesa to the East), effectively killing business in Tempe bars and restaurants.
The latest entrant into the anti-smoking foray is the city of Indianapolis. Upon passing their version of a no-smoking ordinance, no fewer than 10 bar owners filed a federal lawsuit against the city just this week. However, since there has been plenty of precedent for such laws on the books, most legal experts don’t give the plaintiffs much of a chance in their quest for justice on behalf of their smoking patrons.
Tried and True Precedent
Foremost, this Gang of 10 is representing itself in court, without the assistance of legal counsel. Everyone is familiar with the axiom about such lawyers having fools for clients. Their assertion, that smoking bans violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, won’t hold much water since existing bans have already been determined in court to be part of the legislative branches’ bailiwick in terms of regulating commerce.
The mayor’s office, for its part, simply expresses confidence that it will prevail in court. They crafted their law carefully, even creating exemptions for “tobacco bars”. In fact, the latest portion of the ban covers bowling alleys, bars and hotel lounges – areas which had previously been exempted from the existing smoking ban. In the name of clean air for everyone, most experts believe that the lawsuit against Indianapolis will meet the same fate as other lawsuits challenging similar bans elsewhere.