Supporters of Lawrence's ban on smoking in public places have reason to cheer. On Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the ban, settling an issue that had been closely watched not only by Lawrence but by many other cities across the state that have approved or are considering similar smoking ordinances.
Dennis Steffes, the owner of Last Call and Coyotes, filed the initial lawsuit against the city, saying the no-smoking ordinance conflicted with state law and was unconstitutionally vague about enforcement measures. Friday's ruling rejected all of those arguments.
Steffes and the owners of other local dining and drinking establishments have claimed that the smoking ban has had a negative effect on their businesses. While the city should be considerate of the rights of owners to operate their businesses as they wish, the presence of second-hand smoke makes this a public health issue both for patrons and employees.
Many would argue that the absence of smoke in their businesses actually may draw more customers, including some from other cities that don't have a similar ban. Sales tax revenue for the dining and entertainment sector in Lawrence have remained strong.
Lawrence may have been one of the first Kansas communities to pass a smoking ban, but it certainly isn't out of step with the national trend. Many cities much larger than Lawrence - and some entire states - have instituted similar bans.
The Supreme Court disagreed with Steffes' claim that the city's ordinance didn't give specific enough instructions about how business owners should handle people who are smoking in their establishments. The behavior of patrons in and around Last Call and Coyotes might cause some local residents to conclude that controlling smoking in his establishments is the least of Steffes' worries.
With the smoking ban issue settled, perhaps Steffes and his staff can turn their attention to more pressing matters related to the safety and security of their businesses and customers.