Fuming Mad

Restaurant owner Jeff Stilwell applauds the café that’s taking the state to court over the smoking ban. If the law is supposed to protect people’s health, why does it only apply to restaurants, and not bars?

Jeff Stilwell of Barnacle Bill’s says, "The way it reads to me now is, if you’re smoking around food, it’s hazardous to your health. If you’re smoking around liquor, there’s no problem, no hazard. That’s the way the law, technically, that’s the way it reads. It doesn’t make a lot of sense."

The lawsuit says bars get an unfair advantage because they’re granted special exceptions in exchange for paying big bucks for a liquor license.

Restaurant owners say a true workplace smoking ban would mean no smoking in bars, either.

The groups behind the smoking ban agree it may favor bars over restaurants. They’d also just as well see smoking banned at both types of establishments.

The American Lung Association and restaurant owners bitterly opposed each other during the effort to pass the smoking ban, but the Lung Association’s Brenda Olsen says they agree on this one.

Bars that are serving anything more than pretzels or peanuts should also be subject to the ban.

Brenda says, "We would encourage the Legislature to take another look at the law and remove those unconstitutional exemptions and to go a step further and remove the exception for bars."

The federal lawsuit is the first to challenge the constitutionality of the now nearly two-year-old smoking ban.