AUSTIN (AP) _ People can be refused service or asked to leave Austin restaurants and bars for smoking, an appeals court announced Friday in a ruling upholding the city's smoking ban.
Although a federal judge had ruled some aspects of the ban were too vague, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans disagreed in a ruling Thursday.
The city's ban as approved by voters in 2005 listed five steps businesses had to comply with, including the posting of no-smoking signs and removal of ashtrays; asking smokers to extinguish their cigarette or cigars; refusing service to smokers; and asking smokers to leave.
But a judge in 2006 found the law's provisions about asking smokers to leave and refusing service unconstitutionally vague. The judge also said the fifth step, regarding how violations are handled, was too vague.
The city then appealed.
"Now the code endorcement arm of the city will be able to enforce the smoking ban fully," said Anne Morgan, chief of litigation for the city. "Obviously the city is relieved by the decision and pleased by it."
Jennifer Riggs, an attorney representing a group of bar owners who initially sued the city over the ordinance, did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press on Friday.
The ban prohibits smoking inside most public places, including restaurants, bars and music venues.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.