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Go to Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) website for detailed information on Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act, including status of enforcement actions and links to Complaints, decisions, and other documents – http://www.iowaabd.com/smokefree/.

For immediate release -- Tuesday, May 5, 2009.
Contact Bill Roach 515-281-5536, or Bill.Roach@iowa.gov

Three More Bar Licenses Challenged for Smokefree Air Act Violations

Two bars in Lee County, one in Boone County
bring total actions to 44.

Des Moines.. Attorney General Tom Miller has filed three new liquor license Complaints against Iowa bars for violating the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. The bars are: PaPa’s Bar and Grill near Keokuk, The Stumble Inn in Donnellson, and Mike C’s in Woodward.

The actions bring to 44 the number of Complaints filed by the Attorney General’s Office with the state Alcoholic Beverages Division seeking to revoke or suspend liquor licenses for violating Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act.

“Bars are obligated to obey all Iowa laws as a condition of their privilege to hold a license,” Miller said. “That includes the Smokefree law. Most businesses, including most bars, are following the law but we intend to continue to bring actions against those that are not.”

The three new Complaints, which were filed with the ABD last Friday, include:

  • PaPa’s Bar and Grill near Keokuk received three notices of potential violation from the Iowa Department of Public Health. The notices, based on citizen complaints, are intended to warn the business and educate it about its duties and obligations. The Hearing Complaint filed by Miller’s office alleges that during visits by the Lee County Health Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office individuals were seen to be openly smoking on the premises, and that employees did nothing to stop it. Ashtrays were also observed during some of the visits. [Go to PaPa's Bar and Grill complaint.]

  • The Stumble Inn in Donnellson, Iowa, was issued two notices of potential violation. The Hearing Complaint alleges that in February and April 2009 Deputies with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office observed smoking on the premises as well as the presence of ashtrays. Employees reportedly did nothing to attempt to remedy the situation. [Go to The Stumble Inn complaint.]

  • The Hearing Complaint against Mike C’s in Woodward, Iowa, alleges that on two visits by a Dallas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy, and one by an Inspector with the Iowa Department of Public Health, individuals were smoking openly inside the premises, that ashtrays were present, that required signage was not posted, and that employees did nothing to remedy the situation. [Go to Mike C's Complaint.]

In each of the three cases, the Attorney General alleged the bars’ “open and continuing failure to comply” with the Smokefree Air Act is grounds for suspension and/or revocation of the licensees’ liquor license.

When the Attorney General files a Complaint with the Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD), the Complaint is referred to an administrative law judge for an evidentiary hearing. The ALJ then issues a proposed decision, which can be appealed to the ABD Administrator.

“We are determined to enforce this new law -- because it is the law, and because it saves lives,” Miller said. “The huge majority of Iowa businesses are obeying the law, and we will not allow a small minority to flout it,” he said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the Iowa Smokefree Air Act is working, and it is saving Iowans’ lives,” Miller said. “Iowans are healthier because of the law.”

Miller praised Iowa businesses for overwhelmingly complying with the new law. He said that of over 82,000 businesses in the state, the State Department of Public Health has received complaints against only 917 -- about 1%. And Miller noted that some of those complaints had to do with technical issues associated with the startup of the new law, such as placement of signs.

“Actions against liquor licenses are one of our most effective enforcement tools,” Miller said. “The principle is simple: Holders of liquor licenses are obligated to follow Iowa law, all Iowa law. If they break the law, their licenses may be suspended or revoked.”

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