Larry Bob’s Oasis in Davenport faces smoking ban punishment


The proposed punishment for Larry Bob’s Oasis’ violation of Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act could have been worse, but Davenport owner Larry Hergert said it could have been much better, too.

Hergert learned Tuesday he faces a 14-day suspension of his liquor license for violating the statewide smoking ban. The proposed decision by administrative law judge John M. Priester stated a 30-day suspension was considered but rejected because the violations were “minimal.”

The decision also noted two verified complaints by Davenport police officers in late February and early March, which Hergert thinks should merely result in a $200 fine.

“We were hoping for one day,” Hergert said. “It is better than what it could’ve been.”

Hergert talked while sitting at a table in the bar on Hickory Grove Road. Flanking the front door outside are buckets that hold cheap cigarette butts. A bumper sticker on the wall states “Repeal smoking bans; they’re unAmerican.”

He’s told one bartender of the proposed punishment by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. Three people will be out of work, he said, two bartenders and himself. At minimum, he has to make about $450 per day to keep the bar going.

“That is what I have to make to break even,” he said, “so I’m not making a nickel.”

Bar patron Patty Powers of Davenport said she thinks the smoking ban is ridiculous.

“This has become such a socialist country,” she said. “They’re telling us what to do. I’m sick of it.

“You know, my whole family has smoked and not one has died from lung cancer,” Powers added. “But we’re all going to die of something. I could eat bacon tomorrow and die of a heart attack. But we’re not outlawing hogs.”

Powers said the state is more concerned about money than health, otherwise, the tobacco companies would be shut down. “But they can’t afford to do that because the tobacco companies bring in too much money.”

If people want to smoke, let them smoke, she said. “It’s their life.”

Hergert said he is leaning toward filing a lawsuit in Scott County District Court to have a judicial review of the decision. The proposed decision notes that Hergert questioned the constitutionality of the smoking ban because it allows smoking in casinos and other venues.

Brian Froehlich, who own’s Fro’s Pub and Grub in Wilton, Iowa, is among a handful of bar owners who have already filed similar suits, also questioning the constitutionality of the smoking ban. Little movement has occurred on Froehlich’s lawsuit since it was filed April 29 in Muscatine County.

“I don’t think the state’s in any hurry to find out how these lawsuits are going to end up,” Hergert said.


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