Federal Court Dismisses Smoking Ban Challenge

DENVER - Attorney General John Suthers today announced that Judge Lewis T. Babcock of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado has upheld the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act and dismissed the challenge brought by a group called Coalition for Equal Rights.

In dismissing the plaintiffs' claim that the Act's exemption for casinos violates their equal protection rights, the Court ruled that, "the Government had a reasonable basis to exclude casinos; that is sufficient for the Act to pass equal protection muster." Likewise, with respect to the exemption for smoking lounges at DIA the court held that, “Since the goal of the legislation is to protect non-smokers from the effects of second hand smoke, the unique configuration of DIA’s smoking lounge was, in the eyes of the legislature, sufficient to meet this policy goal.”

Deputy Attorney General Jason Dunn, who argued the case for the State, said, "The Court recognized that regardless of what one may think of a smoking ban, the policy debate ended when the Governor signed the bill. The Court properly refused to reopen that debate or substitute itself for the legislature."

The case was originally filed June 15, 2006, after which a hearing was held on the plaintiffs' request for a temporary restraining order to prohibit the law from going into effect on July 1. Following a hearing on June 23, the court denied the motion for a temporary restraining order and the law went into effect as scheduled. The parties then proceeded to argue the case on cross-motions for summary judgment. Today, the court ruled in favor of the State's motion for summary judgment, and denied the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment. The case is now dismissed, barring an appeal by the plaintiffs.

The case is captioned Coalition for Equal Rights, Inc. v. Owens. Case No. 06CV01145, United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

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