Friday, March 09, 2007

Judge John Few strikes down Greenville smoking ban

In Foothills Brewing Concern v. City of Greenville, Judge John few and struck the City's ban on smoking in all enclosed public places. A copy of the order can be found here.

The plaintiffs in this case were a group of bar and restaurant owners concerned that the ban would hurt or destroy their businesses. Judge Few held that the 1996 amendments to the state's Clean Indoor Air Act expressly preempt the smoking ordinance. The Act sets forth with some specificity the types of buildings and areas in which local governments can ban smoking (e.g., health care facilities, schools, etc.). Under S.C. Code Ann. 16-17-504(A), which states that "laws, ordinances, or rules may not supersede State law or regulation," Judge Few held that the General Assembly intended to prohibit local government from imposing any restrictions on indoor smoking beyond the restrictions contained in the Clean Indoor Air Act. The City will likely appeal the Order.

The entire opinion is worth a read. No matter what one believes about smoking, this is a well-reasoned decision from one of the state's premier trial judges.

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