City Government

“Pipe Dream” Turns Into Financial Nightmare For Refugees

We send our soldiers to fight for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan and when refugees fleeing oppression arrive in the City of Trees to enjoy that freedom, they sometimes face even bigger battles.

Such is the case of the guys who found themselves “victims” of a newly enacted city ordinance outlawing smoking in public places–like Hooka Bars. The establishments do not deal in alcohol and the tobacco smoked in the communal water pipes is described as a wet sticky fruit or flower scented variety.

The first steps in a “regulatory taking” legal case have been initiated on behalf of the owners of three hooka bars within the city limits. The gist of the claims will be they were operating legal businesses and were put out of business by the ordinance, including visits from Boise coppers who are doing their duty enforcing the new law. No arrests were made, only warnings.

One owner had made a substantial investment, rented space, and was put out of business prior to actually opening.

Miles Stirewalt and Mikel Hautziner, a couple of local activists, sought an analysis from the city last week in a memo to the city clerk. The city is due to report back in 42 days from January 23 on its conclusion of whether or not there is a valid claim regarding putting the hooka bars out of business.

The city can deny the claim, seek a settlement, or defend its actions in court.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. brian vermillion
    Jan 31, 2012, 6:23 am

    Can’t we all just co-exist like the popular bumper sticker says?

  2. I really, really don’t like smoking in public places, and overall I support the new law, but it does seem like there should have been a way to allow place like hookah bars to continue business. If a business is exclusively about smoking, then it follows that smoking is acceptable there and that the “general public” that is bothered by smoking wouldn’t gravitate there anyway. The intent of the law is good, but the implementation didn’t work out very well. I hope it gets changed.

  3. What is next? Denial of the brew-pub that the State land board is putting in one of their buildings

  4. Hmmm, Official and selective application of the Boise Rulers’ new “You VILL be healthy” law would seem to smack of favoritism based on racial profiling.

    Whatever happened to “If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen?”

    Except during Ramadan, I know of no prohibitions against smoking, either hookahs or cratered ruins, in South West Asia.

  5. I don’t much care for the smell of smoke, and avoid places where I expect I’ll have to deal with it.

    But these hooka establishments are private property! In my opinion, the city has absolutely no authority to ban smoking in hooka bars – or bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, etc., for that matter. The owner of the establishment can decide what goes, and which clientele he wants to cater to. I can choose which places will get my dollars… and I can tell the owner why I do and/or don’t patronize his establishment.

    If Nanny Dave and his Party toadies can ban smoking in a private business… why can’t they also ban smoking in your apartment or house? (After all, what is bad for the downtrodden employees who must suffer second-hand smoke is also bad for minor children. Can’t Big Brother do something?!?)

  6. Thanks for reporting on this, Guardian. This is an important issue highlighting effects of a hasty decision. I’m a smoker, and I approve of this ordinance — just not the way the city implemented it. The city should have gone through a more formal process (even to the extent of putting it on a ballot) to include more citizens in the decision. No doubt in my mind the ordinance would have still passed, but A) it would have quashed the griping coming from some bar owners who say the city is unfairly dictating the conditions of their enterprise, and B) glitches like the hookah bars would have been addressed and ironed out before implementation.

  7. I thank the good Lord that I chew Copenhagen. They haven’t banned that!

  8. Doesn’t the law ban all tobacco? I don’t think the got. should be allowed to put restrictions on prvt. buisness owners. If a person doesn’t like to smell the smoke don’t go or work in that establishment. I know this is retorical but do non smokers have the right to dictate to smokers where they can smoke?

  9. the got. should be govt. me no typey too goodly

  10. Hey Rick, there was an appeal that went to the US Supreme Court in the late 80’s. A lady contracted lung cancer (she was a non-smoker) and asked to be granted workman’s compensation because of all the second hand smoke where she worked. Her claim was denied at the state level courts but she appealed to the Supreme Court and her appeal was granted. Well the result was it hit the fan with all the insurance companies and smoking in the workplace came to an end virtually overnight. Now it has become an issue in public places and the potential liability is hanging out there for owners and operators.

    Take the hooka bar private and the problem is solved. Make the membership a nominal cost but the place is members only.

  11. Grumpy ole guy
    Jan 31, 2012, 7:35 pm

    I hope you know that by restraining myself from attempts at blowing this off with cheap-shot remarks, I am abridging my own self-expressive rights.
    Does the ordinance NOT define WHAT is being smoked?
    Since the US Supreme Court has ruled that otherwise controlled substances may be used during native-American religious ceremonies, I would have thought that the Boise City Fathers and Mothers would have considered that there are, in fact, social (including religious) reasons for consumption of a substance which itself is NOT controlled may be employed (or, enjoyed). Did the ban include the Cigar stores where smoking takes place? I know that, that was discussed, but don’t recall the outcome.
    I applaud the intent of the City measure IF the intent is to preserve and protect by-standers. However, it does appear that it may require re-visiting for consideration of additional venues and circumstances. It also appears a tad more than meddlesome to fit into such a libertarian climate as is Idaho’s.

  12. Paul…sounds like a very good idea… but I still say the govt still needs to stay out of peoples day to day lives

  13. Hawaii had a rational approach to smoking in public establishments. It was up to the proprietor of the business to decide whether smoking would or would not be allowed inside. If smoking was allowed, there had to be a sign on the door warning people that smoking was allowed inside.

    Pretty simple. Let the business owner decide whether to allow it or not, then let the public decide whether to go inside or not. All that was required was to enable consenting adults to make an informed decision for themselves.

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