VFW appeals liquor license suspension

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 775 in Ottumwa is appealing licensing penalties.


OTTUMWA, IOWA — The Iowa smoking ban has drifted to liquor licenses for the Ottumwa VFW Post 775.

Last year, the “Smoke Free Air Act” made indoor smoking illegal in almost all public places in Iowa, as well as some outdoor areas. Several groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars felt that the law was unconstitutional and they continued to smoke. This resulted in citations and litigation.

“I said, ‘And what does it tell a child when he’s on the school bus going home at three o’clock in the afternoon, and there’s 15 to 25 people standing on the street corner outside the bar, smoking cigarettes?’ You took them out of the bar where they were concealed, and you threw them into the street where every kid in the world can watch them,” said Dennis Whitson, the Commander-Elect of VFW 775.

A week ago, the VFW Post received a letter regarding the stance of Iowa’s Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Division. The letter stated that the VFW could lose its liquor license for a year…pending a court ruling. A panel of judges reduced that penalty to a 30-day suspension.

“Well they read this as a health code violation,Bond cigarettes in the establishment. Therefore, they had the right to come in and take your liquor license because you were not fulfilling your liquor license rules,” said Whitson.

As it stands now, the penalties also extend to any VFW member of Post 775 who owns a separate establishment…that establishment could also lose its liquor license. The VFW is appealing these penalties for 11 “possible violations” of the smoking law.

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