State seeking to move smoking lawsuit to Oklahoma County

Friday, July 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The Oklahoma Department of Health wants to move a lawsuit challenging new smoking rules to Oklahoma County.

Their motion to move the lawsuit from Creek County, filed Thursday, is the state's second attempt at changing jurisdiction. A federal judge earlier this month denied the state's request to move the lawsuit to federal court.

Health department attorney Charles Broadway said Oklahoma County is the proper venue because that's where the department and Gov. Frank Keating issued the rules, which require large restaurants with no-smoking sections to enclose and ventilate rooms where smoking is allowed. Restaurants that are ``all-smoking'' are not affected.

Benny Vanatta, lobbyist for the Oklahoma Restaurant Association, disagreed.

``State law is clear in that we can make our challenge in any county where the rules are being implemented,'' Vanatta said.

Freddie's Barbecue and Steakhouse and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1320 sued the department and Keating, claiming the rules violate current state law governing public smoking. The lawsuit, filed in consultation with the restaurant association, also claims Keating and the department overstepped their rule-making authority.

Also Thursday, the American Lung Association of Oklahoma sued the department, the restaurant association, Freddie's and the VFW. The group claims the rules and the state's smoking laws violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.