A 34-year-old computer technician pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he refused to extinguish a cigarette inside a Dana Point bar, in violation of a new state law, a court clerk said.
Craig Etling of Dana Point is believed to have been the first Orange County resident cited by sheriff's deputies under the new state ban on smoking in bars.
Etling was in Harpoon Henry's, a restaurant and bar overlooking Dana Point Harbor, when he lit up Jan. 17. The restaurant owner, Bob Mardian, said his employees asked Etling to use a patio area catering to smokers, but that Etling refused.
Etling is accused of interfering with business and smoking in an enclosed business, the court clerk said. He is scheduled to return to Municipal Court in Laguna Niguel in April for trial. If convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Michael B. Stone, the attorney representing Etling, said his client is not guilty of interfering with business because "it was an empty bar.
"As to the second charge . . . the state's no-smoking law doesn't apply to him; it applies to the bar owner."