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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – A judge ruled against a group of bars and restaurants suing New Orleans over its smoking ban. Pat O’Brien’s, The Court of Two Sisters and 50 other businesses asked for a preliminary injunction Tuesday.

Lawyer Tom Cortazzo told WGNO if the civil court would have ruled in favor of the plaintiffs it would have restricted the city from enforcing the ban — which Cortazzo called “too vague to be valid.”

The businesses argued

  1. The ordinance is defective based on alleged violations of fiscal note requirement. The fiscal note details the economic impact the ordinance will have on the city. Cortazzo argued that councilmembers didn’t get enough time to read it. “They got it while they were debating. You can’t possibly sit down and read a document that’s many pages long with a lot of detailed financial data, digest that and understand it and then debate with that in mind. It’s too late at that point,” Cortazzo said.
  2. The ordinance is substantively vague, such as who must enforce the ordinance and in some cases what exactly is banned.

The Orleans Parish Civil District Court did not find evidence for either argument.

“This court finds nothing vague about the ordinance in question. There is nothing vague as all the terms either have settled meaning in law or are understandable by an ordinary citizen,” Judge Robin M. Giarrusso wrote in the reason for judgement. See the full release here.

Statement from Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

“The smoke-free ordinance is an important public health measure that will save lives and improve health outcomes. We have been incredibly pleased by the outpouring of support we’ve received for the ordinance, and we are grateful to both residents and employers for their help and cooperation in its implementation.”

The City Council unanimously passed the smoking ban and the mayor signed it in January.  The ban officially took effect in April 2015.