District judge throws out unconstitutional ruling on smoking ban | PostIndependent.com

District judge throws out unconstitutional ruling on smoking ban

BRIGHTON, Colo. (AP) ” A district court judge has overruled a county judge who declared Colorado’s smoking ban unconstitutional.

District Judge Chris Melonakis ruled Tuesday in the case involving Oasis Cabaret in Adams County, which argued the ban violated the due-process of owners who wanted to establish their business as cigar bars and allow smoking under an exemption in the law.

Oasis had been cited under the law passed last year.

Adams County Judge Robert S. Doyle in April agreed with Oasis’ argument and declared the law unconstitutional. Melonakis then overruled Doyle.

“The public interest in protecting the health of nonsmoking patrons from harm…is a legitimate exercise of the state’s police powers,” said Melonakis.

Melonakis cited the Colorado Supreme Court, which held that entities such as Oasis must prove a law is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt when challenging the constitutionality of a law.

He also cited U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock who in October 2006 upheld the smoking ban, which had been challenged by a coalition of tavern and bowling alley owners. Babcock ruled that legislatures have broad discretion to make economic and social distinctions in the “pursuit of valid public policy goals.”

The law passed in 2006 prohibited smoking in public places except casinos, some airport lounges and cigar bars. Lawmakers this year changed the law to also ban smoking in casinos.

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