Archive for Friday, January 6, 2006

Bar owner files motion to halt enforcement of smoking ban

January 6, 2006


Lawrence bar owner Dennis Steffes is continuing his fight to have the city's smoking ban declared unconstitutional.

Steffes on Friday filed a new motion asking that enforcement of the ban be halted until a court determines the constitutionality of the ban. Douglas County District Court Judge Jack Murphy last month denied a motion to suspend enforcement of the 19-month old ban.

But Friday's motion asks Murphy to reconsider his ruling based on additional arguments. Specifically, Steffes - owner of Coyotes and Last Call - said the court did not fully consider that Steffes had been branded a criminal because of the three citations he has been issued under the new ban. Steffes' attorney William Rork of Topeka told the court that damage was irreparable.

Steffes also continues to argue that the ban is unconstitutionally vague because it does not specifically instruct business operators what they must do when someone is found smoking in their businesses. The city has argued that the ban is not vague, and that Steffes has not been damaged by the ban.

Murphy has tentatively set a hearing for March 7.


akuna 12 years, 3 months ago

Boo on Steffes. I love the smoking ban. It is soooo much nicer going to restaurants and bars without smoke filling the place. Good foresight city commission.

NotASquishHead 12 years, 3 months ago

What a waste of money... The smoking ban is the greatest thing the city has done in years! I can actually go out to eat or get a drink without smelling like an ash tray.

monkeywrench1969 12 years, 3 months ago

No laws tell him how he is supposed to identify and handle gang members yet he actively sought gang recognition and handling training for his bouncers.

Why not seek training for handling those unruly out of control smokers when they smoke in the bar. They are so much more dangerous than the gang members he sought training for...The LJWORLD is giving lots of free advertising.

Probably what is going to happen when they go out of business for mis managing money or a new place that is cooler with the same music format takes his business he will blame the city and the smoking ban.

If he is a criminal it is becasue who he is specifically drawing to his club through marketing not the fact he is being issued tickets. Most experineced bar owners have been issued citations from ABC or the city. Why not ask those "criminals" what they did...Kept doing business.

Moderateguy 12 years, 3 months ago

At first, this article made me angry. Then I realized that the more money he wastes on Lawyers, the sooner Last Call will be out of business. Then the gang bangers will have to stay in KC. Brilliant.

pepper_bar 12 years, 3 months ago

if Lawrence or any other government was being really honest about this issue, they would outlaw cigarette smoking entirely. or at least they would ban smoking on public sidewalks and in public parks.

restaurant smoking bans are a pathetic and disingenuous method of fighting a major public health problem.

lisabeth2002 12 years, 3 months ago

this whole outrage on the smoking ban is way out of hand. most smokers don't have a problem with the ban because most bars and restaurants have covered, heated and air conditioned patios for them to smoke, eat and drink at. the bar owners who have not made these adjustments need to either do so, or get over the fact that their customers will simply go somewhere who has. stop wasting your money on lawsuits and do something productive with it!

grubesteak 12 years, 3 months ago

Peppar_bar, say what you want, but I feel the ban helped me quit. I've been smoke-free six weeks today.

My hats off to the city leaders for having the guts to do something outrageous but right (at least on this issue).

ColBond 12 years, 3 months ago

I'm honestly impressed with the comments I've seen here so far. I thought reading the article that a number of people would speak up in defense of someone trying to shoot down the ban. Props to Lawrence for sticking behind it, and setting an example for other cities to get on the right track.

pepper_bar 12 years, 3 months ago

grube - congratulations on quitting! my only point is that the ban doesn't go nearly far enough.

dex 12 years, 3 months ago

down with the rights of property owners! first the food and drinking establishments (private property) and next the homes (also private property)! why should child-rearing homeowners be allowed to light? don't their children have a right to live in smoke-free establishment? and what about guests at the homeowner's party? don't they also have the right to party in a smoke-free establishment?

boo! Boo! BOO!

gbulldog 12 years, 3 months ago

I assume that Mr Steffes is a smoker.

I wonder if Mr Steffes liked the music of Lou Rawls. I wonder if the secondhand smoke that he encountered during performances at clubs and other venues contributed to his cancer?

Personally I try not to enter an establishment where smoking is permitted. If I do, I cough, my clothes start to stink, and my eyes water.

rtwngr 12 years, 3 months ago

I smoked for 32 years and quit. I run 3 miles per day now just because I can. I hate the smell of tobacco. I love going to a bar or a restaurant and not having to worry about the horrific odor that would accompany me home in the past. Most of all I have a problem with the government prohibiting a legally taxed activity on private property. Many of the posts I see here are by people that have a problem with "invasion of privacy" rights by the Bush administration. I guess when the abolition of rights of others, like private property owners, is at stake you really show your true colors.

fisheyedjack 12 years, 3 months ago

Dear Mr. Steffes,

Get over yourself and stop wasting the City's time and resources. You're so worried about "losing customers" and not making the CASH you use to, which I am sure you reported all of it to the IRS (yeah right), you're turning into a joke. If the smoking band is hurting your bar business so much, why don't you relocate to some other city or state? If you would spend the same amount of time on improving your business skills, like all the other bar owners in this town do, you would not be the comic relief of the smoking ban.

The_Analyst 12 years, 3 months ago


I would be careful what you say about banning smoking in private homes for the sack of the non smoking family members. This idea might be a reality at the rate things are going. LOL...

But for me, I love the fact that Lawrence has taken a stand against smoking. Ya know, in Elemetary School we were taught that in a fire you crawl low to the ground to avoid breathing in the why would anyone in their right mind want to intentionaly breath in smoke. Can one person even give one benefit about smoking? No, they can not!

pylon25 12 years, 3 months ago

I think what Steffes is doing is great. I don't smoke, and while it's nice to be in a smoke free bar, I disagree with the ban entirely. You had the choice to enter the establishment, it's private property, and the owner/operator should have the right to do as they wish, especially regarding a legal activity. If people never fought laws they felt were unjust, there would be no check on the government to ensure that laws and ordinences were proper. He is arguing it is to vague, and in doing so makes a good point as the ordinence doesn't specify how to deal with those breaking the law. Good for him for standing up for his rights as a property and business owner.

gccs14r 12 years, 3 months ago

"Can one person even give one benefit about smoking? No, they can not!"

Nicotine is an excellent central nervous system stimulant and smoking it allows the user to regulate the dose on a millisecond feedback loop. Nicotine alone has not been shown to be hazardous in the dosage available from smoking tobacco, but it is very addictive and is never consumed in isolation from other compounds that are very bad for human health.

Ember 12 years, 3 months ago

Nothing like legislating personal responsibility.

fascinating_person 12 years, 3 months ago


in the style of the genius of trey parker/matt stone: if you dun' like this place, you kin GETTTTT OUTTTTT.

grubesteak 12 years, 3 months ago

Sorry peppar_bar, I took your earlier post for sarcasm. Oops!

lunacydetector 12 years, 3 months ago

good luck with the no smokes grubesteak. you have a 2% chance of success to never smoke again ever - and for the rest of your life.

sharron5rs 12 years, 3 months ago

BOOOOO!!! I havent had a good night out since the put the smoking ban into effect. All the barkeeps I have talked to said the smoke did not bother them, and if it had, they would have worked somewhere else. So, let us have a little bit of freedom for a while before we are OUT, to be treated like lepars again

dex 12 years, 3 months ago

i don't like to breathe cigarette smoke. before the ban, i wouldn't go to establishments that allowed smoking and weren't well ventillated. that was my choice.

what i don't like even more is taking rights away from some property owners, but not others. i don't like gambling with other peoples' investments; sure, a smoking ban might not hurt business, but i don't know anything about running one and it's not my money anyway so who am i to gamble with money that doesn't belong to me?

ban smoking on all private property in lawrence or don't ban it at all. and why isn't smoking banned on public property? isn't this supposed to be about public health? if the smoking ban was really about health, then we need to ban smoking in private homes too. to the people who say "i like to eat out without breathing smoke," will you support a smoking ban at all homes in lawrence? so far, you have given up nothing in the name of protecting your so-called "right" by trading the liberties of many who invested their money and their sweat and their time. shame!

but it's all cool, i like the smoking ban! i don't support your right to do something that bothers me, i have a right to not be bothered!

topflight 12 years, 3 months ago

This guys is a jackass. There is no way he is losing any money is his rat hole bars. He is still getting his gangstas and his cowboys to his bars. Quit crying jerk, i am sick of it.

dex 12 years, 3 months ago

consumer1: that's a stupid analogy! you're stupid!

if somebody in the bar starts waving a gun around, is it the bar owner who gets the citation?

Ember 12 years, 3 months ago

There was bound to be some backlash from the banning of indoor smoking in bars, clubs and restaurants in the city of Lawrence. I was most likely not going to turn out the way that the worst of the doomsayers were predicting, with mass closing of businesses, especially bars.

That being said, when you remove the option of chosing between smoking and non smoking stablishments, it thereby removes the option of self determination in business.

Naturally, no business opens that caters to the public just to do it. Prime reason is for income. Secondary reason, usually, is to be the one that sets the policies.

See, I'm one of the lucky smokers in town. I work outside, which means the ban doesn't interfere with me when I am at work. I, however, no longer go out almost nightly for a beer or two after work, or even a meal occassionally. I'm not causing any great hardship, seeing as how my 2 beers and steak dinners were not the only source of income for wherever I decided to eat and/or drink.

Legislating morality is, at best, a quicksand concept, since you can never formulate a law that will meet everyone's needs equally. At least a law as broad-based as a smoking ban.

I assume that everyone agrees that O.S.H.A. is the leading authoritive figure, so to speak, in deciding what constitutes a 'healthy' workplace. Why does O.S.H.A. allow for smokers' breakrooms in plant facilities? There is nothing in their rules and regulations banning it, as long as it conforms to specific guidelines for ventilation.

But, I suppose, I am in the minority on this issue, and no matter how many facts I point out or how much simple geometry I use to demonstrate the issue, I won't change any minds on the issue. At least not by myself.

I propose that smokers should stage some kind of a civil disobedience activity, one that while being within the confines of the law, still requires that others take notice.

Personally, I would suggest something along the lines of a formal protest in front of City Hall, where everyone present is smoking, and perhaps accidently holding the doors open. No law is being directly broken, so, technically, there would be no chance that the police officers that would most likely be called to deal with the group could legally interfere, especially were the leaders of said group to obtain a permit to protest. Perhaps a few months of daily protests might cause some to stop and hear our complaints.

If we are ignored, nothing says it can't continue.

Ember 12 years, 3 months ago

See, at least in my mind, the issue here is not the restriction of using a legal product.

My main objection is the discrimination involved. It's not racially, sexually, or gender-based, but it is still discrimination.

I have heard to calls for the taxes levied on cigarettes to be recinded, not by even so much as a penny. We, the citizens of this state, seem to enjoy the added income to the state coffers. It allows us to, at least in part, fund unemployment medical insurance, road repair and construction, schools, health care for the elderly, and a myriad of other admittedly useful programs.

But should one group pay more than another simply because they buy one specific product that the other members of the society seek to ban?

This is where the discrimination that I spoke about early comes into play. I pay my property taxes on time. Sales taxes I have no choice about paying, so I pay those as well. Income taxes come out of my paychecks regularly. I pay all of the taxes that everyone else in this state pays, but I also pay the taxes on cigarettes.

At first glance, the taxes on a pack of cigarettes doesn't seem to be a grand amount.

$0.79. 79 cents. Doesn't seem like a grand deal, until you do the math.

The average smoker, according to leading surveys, buys 1 pack of cigarettes per day.

365 times .79 equals $288.35. Again, doesn;t seem like a huge amount, now does it. My property taxes this year were roughly $740. I paid nearly 1/3 the amount of my property taxes on just the taxes for cigarettes.

Now let's take the math a little further. The percentage of smokers in Kansas is roughly 22%, a little more or less depending on which survey you read.

There's just over 6 million people in Kansas as residents.

22% of 6 million is 1.32 million.

That's a lot of people. That's almost the total number of our current standing army, not counting the reserves activated at the moment, of course.

1.32 million times $288.35 equals $380,622,000.00

That is a lot of money, especially in terms of state coffers. We already have funding issues, namely in the fact that we don't have enough money to cover all teh checks we try to write every year. I find it odd that people seem to think that the economy of this state would be better off without smokers.

Now my numbers are probably not exact. They are most likely not that far off, either.

I'm willing to bet that non smokers would rather see the taxes on cigarettes increase before they ask for their property taxes to increase. On average, I'd estimate they'd have to raise at least $150 per household to make up the difference.

Not a pretty thought is it?

Ember 12 years, 3 months ago

The alcohol tax is just 10% of each drink served. If it costs the customer $3.00, the tax is $0.30.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 3 months ago

"There's just over 6 million people in Kansas as residents."

I believe that any "sin" taxes on tobacco and alcohol should be directed primarily towards covering the public health costs they create, but the above statement throws all of your math into question.

Ember 12 years, 3 months ago

No, my math is perfectly fine. You are interpreting it how you see fit, instead of how the numbers themselves play out right in front of you.

Don't know why I should be suprised. More drunk driving fatalities int his country every year than there are deaths directly related to smoking, and the laws against drunk driving are a lot harsher than those against smoking.

But smoking is such a great cause for alarm. It's the current fashionable thing to despise. We tried alcohol, and we saw where it lead. Next was CFC's, and yet I haven't died from radiation poisoning from outer space.

How about we do something about the millionsof Americans shoveling McDonalds into their faces at record speeds? Think we can do something about that, since obeisity is the LEADING cause of deaths in this country, hands down.

But whatever, dude. Look at the numbers any way you want. Granted, it's not like I can honestly stop you from doing so, but still.

And what above numbers are you talking about anyway? The alcohol sales tax? It's a lot lower, and doesn't contribute near as much as you might think to state or local coffers. I know. I had to do that math when I was trying to open a club in this town a couple of years back. Stopped the instant that stupid damned ban went into effect, and won't open until it goes away. Even told the bank thanks, but no thanks on the loan.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 3 months ago

Kansas has a population of slightly less than half of the 6 million you assert. How long have you lived in Kansas that you aren't aware of that?

Comparing alcohol and tobacco is very apples and oranges, and in case you haven't figured it out, both tobacco and alcohol are still legal, even in Lawrence, but there are restrictions on where they can be consumed-- just like there are restrictions on where you can defecate and urinate.

Ember 12 years, 3 months ago

I have no idea where that 6 million came from. The brain just completely shut down, apparently.

2,688,418 residents.

2,688,418 time 22% equals 591451 people.

591451 time 288.35 equals 170,545,172.666

Still a fairly healthy chunk of cash, though.

I do thank you for pointing that out to me. Like I said, I have no idea where the 6 million figure came from. I was cruising through other statistics at the time for other states, so it might have come from there, but I honestly have no idea.

And as to the booze, someone else brought up the tax on it, not me.

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