Arguments ready for smoking ban lawsuit
MUNCIE — Both sides in the legal battle over Delaware County’s new smoking banare ready to make their arguments when the case goes to court next week.
The judge in the smoking ban lawsuit has set a Friday hearing, and attorneys for the county and the tavern owners and others who oppose the ban — which went into effect Aug. 11 — are preparing for it.
Bruce Munson, representing the tavern owners, fraternal organizations and tobacco shops that want the ban overturned, said Friday he will “challenge some of the long-standing assumptions” about the dangers of second-hand smoke and argue that public health does not get a boost from a smoking ban.
Donald Dunnuck, attorney for the local board of health and one of three county commissioners who voted on June 6 to approve the ban, said Munson’s arguments aren’t valid and plans to show that similar smoking bans have been legally upheld in other communities.
Dunnuck argued in the motion that the tavern owners had failed to adequately demonstrate why the ban “causes their members immediate and irreparable harm … and their motion should be denied.”
Munson’s clients raised objections shortly before the ban went into effect — banning smoking in virtually all public buildings, most particularly bars and taverns that had been exempted from a 2006 ban covering restaurants — but action has been delayed until a judge would accept the case.
Munson had asked for a hearing on a temporary injunction when the lawsuit was originally filed and Vorhees recently set the Sept. 16 date in response.
The attorney said he would meet with his clients before the hearing, but he expected to argue “constitutional concerns that have to be raised.”
But he added that the larger issue of the worth of a ban might be argued.
“We may challenge some of the long-standing assumptions on second-hand smoke,” he said. “There is another side to that coin.”
Munson also said he might refer to studies that show communities that implemented a ban don’t show a decrease in hospitalizations or an increase in overall public health.
“They show that a ban doesn’t create a health benefit,” he said.
Asked whether Munson was making a valid argument, Dunnuck said Friday, “No, of course not.”
“In my judgment, there is no legal argument to defeat this ordinance. I don’t think the allegations contained in the complaint are valid.”
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