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High Court Asked to Hear KC Smoking Ban Challenge
American journalist Edward R. Murrow (1908 - 1965) lights a cigarette for American actress Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) during an interview for the TV series 'Person to Person,' April 1, 1955. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

A bartender at JC’s Sports Bar, a small, family-owned bar in Kansas City’s Northland backed by the Kansas City Business Rights Coalition (KCBRC), asked Missouri’s highest court this week to hear a challenge to Kansas City’s 2008 ordinance attempting to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants.

The bartender requested the Supreme Court of Missouri to transfer the case from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, in order to determine whether the City’s smoking ban conflicts with the Indoor Clean Air Act, Missouri’s 1992 law governing smoking indoors. The Act enables bars and billiard parlors like JC’s that post signs warning “Nonsmoking Areas are Unavailable” to operate lawfully without designating nonsmoking areas indoors. The City Prosecutor has agreed that JC’s is a “bar” and “billiard parlor” where those signs are posted.

Last January, the Circuit Court of Jackson County convicted the bartender of violating Kansas City’s smoking ban by allowing patrons to smoke inside JC’s. In June, the Court of Appeals affirmed the bartender’s conviction and held the smoking ban did not conflict with the Indoor Clean Air Act. If the Supreme Court transfers the case, the Court of Appeals’ decision would be void. The Supreme Court would hear the appeal anew, issuing its own opinion.

“In order to uphold the smoking ban, the Court of Appeals had to overrule controlling precedents,” said Jonathan Sternberg, the KCBRCs attorney. He represents the bartender. “It departed from 120 years of municipal-state relations law, ruling that Kansas City is now allowed to override exclusions from state laws. Previous Missouri Supreme Court decisions say otherwise. Since the Supreme Court is the final word on issues of Missouri law like this, it should be the court to decide whether the law should now be applied differently,” Sternberg said.

According to the Supreme Court’s website, https://www.courts.mo.gov, its next decision date is scheduled for Tuesday, September 1, at 1:00 p.m. Once the Supreme Court decides to hear such a case, the high court usually receives briefs, hears oral arguments and hands down a final judgment within six months.

The KCBRC is an alliance of more than 150 businesses throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan Area devoted to fostering free enterprise, especially in hard economic times like these. The KCBRC has fought unreasonable smoking bans in Missouri and Kansas since 2004.

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Added: August 17, 2009. 05:57 PM CDT
Supreme Court decisions
A U.S. Supreme court decision during the early 1970's

((Lloyd Corp v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1992)) said a place of business

does not become public property because the public is invited in.

By using that same reasoning. A restaurant or bar is not public property.

We need to support small business and stop regulating them out of


The air inside a building is, in essence, “owned” by the

building owner. That means that the building owner, is in a

Position to control the amount of smoking (if any) that is

Permitted in the building.

Just because you invite someone into your home (private property), does not give them the right to tell you how to run your home.

Government has the right to collect Taxes and other fees. The Health Department is responsible for protecting the public from un-seen health threats such as cleanliness and infestation by rodents, roaches, etc, which are not seen by the general public.

Smoking/SHS is not an un-seen threat. Everyone has the right to walk out if an establishment does not suit their preferences. They control if a business survives by their right to spend or refuse to support that business.

Signage, at the entrance, is sufficient warning needed to make an informed decision. This supports free choice.

If Smoke Free brings in more business, smoking businesses will be forced to go Smoke Free to survive.
Added: August 14, 2009. 10:37 AM CDT
An alternative to smoking bans
It is clear that separation of smokers from non-smokers combined

with air exchange technology is a complete solution to this largely

artificial problem. All it takes is regulating authorities setting the

standards for indoor air quality on passive smoke, and the technology

does the rest. Such air quality standards are common in industrial

and environmental contexts. But, to date, no country in the world has

set them for smoking areas. It seems clear that the reasons are not

scientific, nor are they economic or technical: they are political.

As to the annoyance of smoking, a compromise between smokers and non-smokers
can be reached, through setting a quality standard and the use of modern
ventilation technology.

Air ventilation can easily create a comfortable environment that removes not
just passive smoke, but also and especially the potentially serious
contaminants that are independent from smoking.

Thomas Laprade
Added: August 14, 2009. 05:13 AM CDT
Ban Rules
Due to the "sunset" provisions on page 15 of the tobacco control handbook, these bans are "cast in stone" at least until the next election.

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