Iowa Revokes Liquor License of Bar Refusing to Follow the State’s Smokefree Indoor Air Act
Per the Des Moines Register at http://www.desmoinesregiste…, the state of Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division suspended and revoked the liquor licenses of two bars, Fro’s in Wilton, IA (suspended) and Otis Campbell’s Bar & Grill in West Burlington, IA for refusing to comply with the state’s Smokefree Indoor Air Act. Unfortunatly, the discussion has become focused on whether individuals agree or disagree with the policy decision made by the Iowa General Assembly in the form of the Smokefree Indoor Air Act.
The real issue at hand, however, is whether or not establishments can pick and choose which laws to follow. As referenced in the final decision, posted by @IowaABD at http://www.iowaabd.com/smokefree/oc_finalorder.pdf, the Iowa Smokefree Air Act clearly provides that an establishment is subject to losing any state-issued permits or licenses for failure to comply. The state documented that both establishments, on a multitude of occassions, failed to comply. Owners of both establishments openly acknowledge non-compliance.
Brian Froehlich, owner of Fro’s Pub & Grub in Wilton, IA is facing a 30-day suspension according to an Administrator’s Final Order released today at http://www.iowaabd.com/smokefree/fros_finalorder.pdf. Froehlich plans to appeal the decision and indicates that he allowed smoking in his bar for a short time after the ban took effect and continued after he was first cited for a Smokefree Air Act violation.
Froehlich indicated that he did not expect public sympathy for the penalty imposed. However, in an interview with Radios Iowa, he stated “You know what? What I did was to tell people that we need to stick up for our rights. Its not about smoking, its about the rights we keep getting taken away from us every day.”
Froehlich is also a member of the Iowa Bar Owners Coalition, a group of Iowa bars dedicated to fighting the Iowa Smokefree Air Act.
Froehlich is upset that other bars found in violation of the same law settled their cases and were given a seven-day suspension and a $1,000 fine.
Meanwhile, Larry Duncan, owner of Otis Campbell’s Bar & Grill, faces revocation of his liquor license for a tw0-year period. The Division Administrator did allow that Duncan can apply for a recision of the revocation if he can assure the Administrator, after a reasonable period, that he will comply with the Smokefree Air Act. Duncan received a stiffer penalty due to his blatant and on-going disregard for the Act.
Duncan has yet to publically comment on today’s ruling. However, in an interview with KHQA in January of 2009, Duncan indicated that he felt the Smokefree Air Act violated everyone’s constitutional rights and vowed to continue non-compliance in his bar.
In the coming months, the constitutionality of the Iowa Smokefree Indoor Air Act will likely come before the Iowa Supreme Court. In the meantime, lets focus on the interesting implications for health advocates, state regulators and business owners in Iowa as the process unfolds.