Smoking Ban Gets Temporary Reprieve in Clark County - 8 News NOW

Smoking Ban Gets Temporary Reprieve in Clark County

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It was a big victory in court Thursday for a group of Clark County business owners who oppose Nevada's new voter-approved smoking restrictions.

District Court Judge Douglas Herndon issued a temporary restraining order for 15 days saying there's evidence the new smoking ban law might be unconstitutional.  

Read the 13-page Plaintiffs' Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief.

The order exempts more than 220 businesses listed in the injunction from following the law, which goes into effect statewide Friday. The restraining order also prevents any agency in Clark County from enforcing the law for 15 days.

Their attorneys claimed they are not clear on who would get cited if a patron were caught smoking. The state argued that the law is not vague and should be followed after the voters passed on it.

Read what people are saying & weigh in with your opinion.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit say this is not being a sore loser on Election Day. "We opposed Question 5. We lost. As I said in my opening statements, when the people speak they have to speak in a constitutional tone. The judge is bothered by the constitutionality of the statute and wants to take a good look at it," said Kirk Lenhard, attorney.

Stephen Minagil, an attorney for the Southern Nevada Health District, said, "What harm will Three Angry Wives pub suffer? Clean air for their bartenders, waitresses, host persons, and customers. Are they going to lose the smoking customers? They are going to gain me. They are going to gain my family."

Judge Herndon will hear constitutional arguments on Dec. 19 and decide if the law is unconstitutional or not.

Judge Douglas Herndon ruled in favor of a two-week temporary stop to the smoking ban. Another hearing is scheduled for the Dec. 19 to determine where to go next with the lawsuit.

The ban was supposed to go into effect statewide Friday after voters passed Question 5 in November. But a group of Clark County bar owners argued that the law is vague and unconstitutional.

Thursday's ruling gives a temporary victory to the smokers in Southern Nevada. The temporary restraining order is only effective in Clark County. The rest of the Nevada must comply with the smoking ban starting Dec. 8. 

There were a lot of new developments Thursday in the smoking ban fight, and more will come in the next few days.

The judge in this case, Judge Doug Herndon, says his office was inundated with phone calls from people saying he cannot go against the will of the voters. He says many of the callers thought because the bill was on the ballot it had passed the constitutionality test.

District Court Judge Herndon said, "That has not been done yet. To the extent people in the public or media think that has already been done and this has been decided and is a good law., that would be an incorrect statement. That would be an incorrect belief."

The judge went on to say he will take an impartial look at the constitutional issues when the hearing comes up on Dec. 19.

Email your comments to Reporter Edward Lawrence.

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