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 May 14, 2005
Smoking in private clubs could be banned
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Later this morning a judge could issue an order to permanently ban smoking in private clubs and small bars. These establishments were previously exempt under the state's new smoking ban.

There is a lot of controversy, since the smoking ban doesn't apply to the Newport Grande or Lincoln Park. One local private club owner directly affected by the judge's decision says private clubs should be exempt.

Katrin Busche is furious about a superior court judge's ruling that has kept her private club, Buschewacker's in Newport; smoke free for the last ten days. She says business at her club, which is only open to members and their guests, has been hurting since the temporary ban on smoking went into effect.

Katrin Busche:

"Last night was dead. Horrible, and it has to do with smoking issues."

An ad that was placed in the Newport Daily News recruiting new members, promotes the private club's smoke-friendly environment. But the ad rubbed many legislators the wrong way, some calling the act "repulsive". Other public pub and restaurant owners are saying clubs like hers are the reason their businesses are losing money.

Katrin Busche:

"In order to get members in here, you have to recruit somehow. The smoking permitted. It is a draw to the club. They want to smoke a cigar. They work hard all week... want to drink and have a cigarette."

Busche, like others who are opposed to the ban, says if the state is going to rule the exemptions unconstitutional, there should be no exceptions to that rule- such as with Lincoln Park and Newport Grand. This owner says she'll fight to put back up the smoking permitted sign at her establishment...

Katrin Busche:

"It's private. It's like the privacy of my home. If you don't want to become a member, then don't come in with a member, don't be sponsored by a member, but it's a private club."

The house has already approved a bill to expand the current smoking to ban to private clubs and that legislation now goes to the senate for approval.

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