We told you this might happen!
Confronted with a lawsuit from Herb Krischke and his south-city bar the Trophy Room, a judge has halted enforcement of St. Louis’ smoking ban — which was set to go into law much more widely as of midnight on January 1.
The last-minute reprieve was first reported just minutes ago by the St. Louis Business Journal, which says that Judge David Dowd has issued a temporary restraining order, stopping the city from enforcing the ban on the Trophy Room until he can hear the case on January 11.
It’s a huge — albeit temporary, at least for now — victory for the smaller bars in St. Louis who would have come under the ban as of New Year’s Day. Given a five-year exemption after the city’s ban initially went into law, the bars and their owners were irked that the city had carved out a permanent exemption for the deep-pocketed casinos, but not them.
But it was the casinos who gave them a way to challenge the law. Krischke argues that because he is licensed through the state’s Keno program, he is a “gaming facility” under the definition in the law. And that means he should qualify for an ongoing exemption, too.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops — but in the mean time, no need to put out that cigarette come midnight on New Year’s Eve. For now, at least, in the city’s dive bars, you’ll be able to just keep puffing away.
Editor’s note: We clarified this story after publication to make it clear that Judge Dowd’s order only applies to the Trophy Room. However, we imagine other bars with keno licenses may well take the same tack that Bastille owner Bob Hiscox told us he planned to employ even before Judge Dowd issued his restraining order — they’ll continue to allow smoking and dare the city to cite them. For now, at least, enforcement is looking a lot more complicated.
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