Judge throws out Pierce County smoking ban
06:36 PM PST on Thursday, January 22, 2004

From KING 5 Staff and Wire Reports


TACOMA, Wash. - A judge told Pierce County on Thursday that its no-smoking rule for public indoor places such as bars and restaurants is not legal because it conflicts with state law.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper granted an injunction sought by the Olympia-based Entertainment Industry Coalition. The county's smoking ban was the most sweeping in the state.

The rule applied to bars, taverns, restaurants, bowling alleys, minicasinos, hotels, private clubs and most nontribal businesses in the county.

The judge took into consideration the money lost because of the ban.In just three days the Silver Dollar Casino lost $27,000 in business in just three days. The owner was planning to lay staff off.

The state's less restrictive Clean Indoor Air Act bars smoking in most public places but exempts restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and casinos.

Culpepper issued his ruling after a two-hour trial, his judicial assistant Angela Edwards said. The decision is subject to appeal.

Meanwhile, in Olympia the state Legislature could still take action. A senate committe is considering a state-wide ban.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health's rule took effect Jan. 2.
Smokers were subject to $100 fines if they were caught lighting up in the wrong place. Businesses were subject to a warning, then a $100 fine, and then possibly suspension or revocation of licenses.

Five other states - California, New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Maine - have such smoking bans but the measure has failed in previous sessions of the Washington Legislature.

People who are exposed to secondhand smoke are affected by nicotine just as if they were smoking.

Every year in the United States, secondhand smoke is responsible for about 35,000 to 40,000 deaths from heart disease, and about 3,000 lung cancer deaths.

There’s also been an increase in respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis asthma attacks.


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