Case Against Smoker on Airline Ends in Mistrial

A mistrial was declared Friday in federal court proceedings against a Studio City hairdresser accused of cursing and manhandling an airline stewardess who ordered him to put out his cigarette on a cross-country flight. After a day of deliberations, jurors said they were hopelessly split 7 to 5 in favor of convicting James J. Tabacca, 37, on a charge of interfering with the duties of a flight crew.

Tabacca lost his temper when smoking was unexpectedly banned on a TWA flight from Boston to Los Angeles Dec. 30, 1987. Since February, 1990, Congress has banned smoking on all domestic flights of six hours or less--effectively eliminating smoking on airliners throughout the county.

Tabacca, a hairdresser for a mortician, was convicted in September, 1988, and sentenced to 15 days in jail, but the decision was reversed on appeal.

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