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Smoking ban lawsuit doesnt worry city

The city attorney isn't worried about a lawsuit against the West Lafayette smoking ban, which will be heard June 19, because it has precedent on its side.

"We've done research countrywide and similar attacks have been made on smoking bans and no challenger has won a single case on this basis," city attorney Bob Bauman said.

The basis of the lawsuit, according to Thomas Herr, attorney for the owner of Harry's Chocolate Shop, is that there is preferential treatment. Establishments earning more than 25 percent of their income from the sale or rental of tobacco products can file for an exemption. If the judge's decision on the suit, which was filed March 20, is delayed, the ban will go into effect.

City councilwoman Patti O'Callaghan, D-At Large, said no establishment has filed for an exemption; however, she does expect Cafe Hookah in Chauncey Hill to file for one.

The ban's effects on bars' business are unknown, but one thing is certain: Steve Weakley and his college buddies won't be returning to smoke cigars at Harry's.

"We will go across the river to enjoy the cigars," said Weakley, who graduated from Purdue in 1989.

Every other year Weakley and a few others gather at Purdue for "Harry's Fest." The event, which goes from open to close, is spent reminiscing, drinking and smoking.

"For some of us it's like coming back home," said Weakley, who traveled from Kentucky.

This year's fest, which was coined "The Last Smoke," took place Saturday and was a special one. It was the last one with cigars.

"I had dreams of one day coming back with my sons and sitting in the fish bowl and smoking cigars," said Rob Proffitt, who traveled from Los Angeles. "We will still visit Harry's but it won't be the same."

Source: Purdue Exponent