13 Apr 2007

Hawaii judge dismisses suit to overturn smoking ban in bars

10:27 am on 13 April 2007

A judge in Hawaii has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn a law banning smoking in bars, a day after legislators rejected another effort to ease up on the law.

Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna ruled that bar owners failed to show that the law is unconstitutional.

The owners had argued that the state's smoking ban, which has prohibited smoking in public buildings since November, violated their property rights because they lost customers and money.

But Deputy Attorney General John Molay said there was no justification for overturning a law solely based on claims that bars had lost some of their business.

At least a dozen bars in the state have actively defied the law by allowing smoking on the premises, and police haven't been aggressive in enforcing the law.

Hawaii's law bans smokers from lighting up in public establishments where food and liquor is served, workplaces, semi-enclosed spaces and within 20 feet of doorways or windows.