Council to hear plan for stricter smoking ban

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A proposal that would prevent smokers from lighting up in all indoor public places in Marion County is expected to meet fierce resistance from bar owners who oppose a stricter smoking ban.

The ordinance would prohibit lighting up in bars, bowling alleys and nightclubs, and nearby outdoor seating areas as well. It would give the city a stricter smoking ban similar to those in 11 other Indiana communities and 26 states, including neighboring Illinois and Ohio.

City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield, a Democrat, is co-sponsoring the proposal along with Republican Ben Hunter. They plan to introduce the proposal at tonight’s meeting.

Mansfield supported a tougher ban in 2005, when councilors ultimately adopted the current version, and thinks momentum is building for a stricter ordinance.

“Four years ago, other than Bloomington, a comprehensive ban was a foreign concept, even though people said they recognized the health issues,” she said. “Now it’s generally accepted.

”Franklin and Zionsville are among the other Indiana communities that have passed a tougher ban. But strong resistance has led others such
as Avon, Carmel and Greenwood to pass partial bans.

Just last month, Westfield opted for a weaker ordinance that exempts bars and restaurants that don’t allow patrons younger than 21 years old.

Simon Robinson, owner of Nicky Blaine’s cigar bar in downtown Indianapolis, is among those who oppose a comprehensive smoking ban.

”It’s a very significant part of our business,” he said of the cigars it sells. “We still would sell an awful lot of martinis, but that’s what Nicky Blaine’s is.”

Robinson said his bar likely would survive a comprehensive smoking ban but argued that prohibiting smoking in public places statewide would be the fairest solution to the contentious issue.

Mansfield expects many of the city’s tavern owners to oppose the stricter proposal.

“But quite frankly,” she said, “I think their arguments are tiresome and meritless.”

At least one bar owner, however, won’t challenge a stricter ban. As a non-smoker, Adam Isenburg, a co-owner of Coaches Tavern on South Pennsylvania Street, would welcome the change.

“It would not hurt my feelings,” he said. “I don’t like that I have to be subjected to it, but I understand that it’s part of the business.”

Coaches’ management decided in June to go smoke-free from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays to accommodate business professionals who eat lunch at the bar. Isenburg said it’s still too early to tell whether the noon-time ban is generating more customers.

A total ban would be an adjustment but not something that would kill business, he said.

“People tend to resist change, but overall, I think it would be a good thing,” Isenburg said.

After tonight’s introduction, the ordinance will be presented to the Community Affairs Committee on Oct. 14 before the full Council votes on it Oct. 26.


  • re: AmericanDirt's comment
    The studies I've read shown that business for establishments permitting smoking doesn't always come back, after government-imposed bans are implemented. Great example is the fact that Casino Windsor(its former name, today now Caesars Windsor) had to lay off 300 people(and 10% of its WHOLE STAFF at the time) when Ontario's provincial ban took effect. A casino in Metropolis, IL was forced to lay off 30 employees after Illinois' ban took effect, and Illinois casino revenue data since 2008 all show that the state smoking ban CLEARLY CAUSED IL casinos to have a greater decline in business, versus surrounding states where smoking is allowed in casinos.

    I only know that if I owned a business, I would be very responsible, and NOT EMPLOY ONE person sensitive to smoke in any areas where smoking were to be permitted. Also, the problem with your comment is that in community after community, and state after state, there always are some businesses(primarily bars) that look the other way on bans and allow smoking anyway, proving total bans DO NOT work. What's so wrong with both types of establishments existing to cater to legal adults seeking either a smoking environment, or even a 100% smoke-free one, as Indy's current smoking ordinance allows for?
  • I wonder if there have been any fiscal impact studies that have accounted for people who may actually begin going to bars, nightclubs, etc once a smoking ban is instituted. I can't help but think a certain contingent would patronize bars more frequently if it weren't for the smoke. Since non-smokers comprise about 75% of the population, it's possible that this could compensate for any business lost by the nicotine addicts.
  • Secondhand smoke meets the standard to be classified as a potential cancer-causing agent by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency responsible for health and safety regulations in the workplace. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), another federal agency, also recommends that secondhand smoke be considered a possible carcinogen in the workplace.

    Maybe that's why when I leave my bar after working a 10 hour shift I congested for two days after...every time. It must be all in my mind....*shrug*
  • As for secondhand smoke in the air, OSHA has stated outright that: "Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded." -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997

    • The fascists just won't go away. In particular, nationally affiliated or local private entities cannot, in all conscience, be grouped with public access domenclatures. This just highlights their insenstivity to 'private' anything. Each year we turn it down or modify it--yet, they just come back. Hey, it's been scrutinized to death. Leave people alone.

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