Smoking-ban case: Fro’s stays open as suspension reviewed

WILTON, Iowa — A judicial review being sought over the suspension of a liquor license at Fro’s Pub ’n Grub could decide the constitutionality of the state’s smoking ban.

The 30-day suspension of the Wilton bar’s liquor license is on hold while the review is being heard in Muscatine County. The suspension, for violations of the state smoking ban, was to start today.

Lynn Walding, director of the Iowa ABD, expects the request by bar owners Brian and Julie Ann Froehlich will lead to a decision on the constitutionality of the smoking ban. The owner of a Burlington bar also has a review pending.

The Froehlichs argue the smoking ban, which went into effect in July, violates the Iowa Constitution’s equal protection clause by permitting smoking in some businesses while banning it in others. Under the Iowa Smokefree Air Act, smoking is allowed on the gaming floor of casinos, a loophole that rankles bar owners.

The petition claims the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division violated the couple’s constitutional rights as business owners by failing to follow due process set down in the smoking ban law. It also argues against the ban’s constitutionality because it limits tobacco commerce by restricting where tobacco can be used.

No hearing date has been set for the Froehlichs’ request. A condition of the stay is that the smoking ban continue to be obeyed at Fro’s during the review period.

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