New Orleans Businesses Ask Judge To Strike Down Smoking Ban

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A group of bars and restaurants asked a state judge on Tuesday to strike down a smoking ban that they said is hurting business.

         The New Orleans Advocate’s Jaquetta White reports that Civil District Judge Robin Giarusso took the case under advisement following an hour-long hearing.

         Attorneys for bars and restaurants argued that the law was "improperly promulgated" because the City Council received information outlining the financial burden the ban would have at the last moment.

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         Assistant City Attorney Christy Harowski argued the councilmembers were given adequate time to consider the financial impact.

         In a new twist, lawyers said Harrah's New Orleans casino asked to be dropped from the case. The casino has been critical of the ban.

         The ban on smoking in public places went into effect in April.

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         During the hearing Giarusso appeared to agree with the city and said the councilmembers had an opportunity to table the ordinance if they felt they didn't have enough information to vote.

         The suit says the ordinance damages business by "requiring plaintiffs to confront, stop serving and run off their customers." The city plans to rely primarily on businesses to enforce the ban.

         Harowski said enforcement issues will be dealt with in a set of rules and regulations the council will consider later this year.

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         Thomas Cortazzo, a lawyer for the businesses, said the city stands to lose $3.6 million a year due to lost revenue from taxes paid to the city from bars and restaurants as a result of the ban.

         Harowski disagreed and said the city stands to lose $500,000 this year and a maximum of $1.8 million in 2016.

         For more information




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