KC smoking ban challenge loses

Kansas City has survived yet another challenge to its smoking ordinance.

The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District issued a ruling today upholding a $50 fine against Georgia Carlson, the bartender of JC’s Sports Bar in the Northland.

According to the ruling, a Kansas City food inspector, Aaron Nieft, entered the bar on April 10, 2009. He noticed several people smoking and told them to put out their cigarettes, which they did. He then reminded Carlson that Kansas City bans smoking in workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

Carlson responded that the bar’s owner had instructed her to allow smoking despite the ordinance. Nieft then wrote her a notice of violation. Municipal court found her guilty, and a circuit court judge upheld that judgment.

Carlson appealed, arguing that Nieft was not a police officer and thus had no standing to give her a ticket.

The appeals court rejected that argument today. It found Nieft was not acting as a police officer and did not try to arrest her. But he did have the authority to enforce the city’s health codes and issue a ticket, and there is nothing in state law or city ordinances that says police officers must in all instances issue violations.

“Nieft had sufficient authority to issue Carlson’s violation notice…and there was sufficient evidence that Carlson violated the ordinance to support the judgment,” the ruling said.

source: kansascity.com

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