J’lem wins smoking case against club

NIS 15,000 levied in ‘unprecedented’ ruling against Ha’uman 17 night club that failed to enforce smoking ban.

Man smoking 370 (photo credit: Ina Fassbender/Reuters)
Man smoking 370
(photo credit: Ina Fassbender/Reuters)
The Jerusalem District Court set a precedent on Monday when it rejected the appeal of the owners of the Ha’uman 17 night club who failed to enforce no-smoking laws on their premises. The action was initiated by the Jerusalem Municipality, which will receive the money from the defendants.
The fine was increased to NIS 15,000 by the court, which sat as a criminal appeals court. The court decided to fine the owners NIS 7,500 for each of two violations instead of the NIS 5,000-apiece fine that the city inspectors originally gave them.
In early 2010, city inspectors fined the club owners twice on different dates after they caught them ignoring a law that requires premise owners to enforce no-smoking laws and prevent illegal tobacco use. One of the owners denied the charges and told the local court that he took “reasonable measures to prevent smoking in his club.”
During the court hearing, city inspectors testified that dozens of people smoked in the club and that the guards allowed people to enter the premises with lit cigarettes in their hands. Barmen continued to serve smoking customers without voicing any objection, the inspectors said.
In the lower court, Judge Sharon Lari-Bavli had convicted the club owners after accepting the inspectors’ testimony and decided to increase the size of the fines beyond the original amount. The owners appealed.
In the district court, Judge Yoram Noam rejected the appeal and approved the NIS 15,000 fine. He noted that even the defendants did not deny that customers continued to smoke in violation of the law.
Kira Lerner of the municipality’s legal department, who represented the city through the whole process, said that the judgement “was important and precedent setting – the first of its kind by an Israeli court relating to responsibility for enforcing no-smoking laws in public places.”
The municipality stressed that it will continue to enforce no-smoking laws against owners who don’t ensure their premises are smoke-free – as part of its “revolution turning Jerusalem into a city free of tobacco smoke in public places.”