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Suit Challenges Louisville’s Smoking Ban

November 14, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ The city’s tough new smoking ban was challenged Tuesday by restaurants and bars that asked a judge to strike it down for exempting the Churchill Downs racetrack.

The Metro Louisville Hospitality Coalition contends the ordinance passed in October violates Kentucky’s Constitution by favoring certain businesses ``without substantial reasons for doing so.″

``Churchill Downs, an establishment that serves food, that serves alcohol just like my clients, gets a free ride,″ said Mike Hatzell, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit also argues that the ordinance would permit ``warrantless and unreasonable searches based on less than probable cause.″

The ordinance passed by the Metro Council last month would tighten a measure that went into effect a year ago. It is set to take effect in July.

The law would exempt tobacco manufacturing and warehouse facilities as well as Churchill Downs. Exemption backers say a smoking ban would further hamper the famed track, already barred from having slot machines, in its effort to compete with Indiana gambling boats.

Kentucky produces more burley tobacco, which is used in cigarettes, than any other state. But smoking has been banned in state government buildings, and other Kentucky cities have passed their own bans.

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