Councilors to introduce new smoking-ban proposal

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Two City-County Councilors are prepared to take another stab at enacting a stronger public smoking ban in Indianapolis. And this time they think Mayor Greg Ballard will approve.

Ballard snuffed out the council's last attempt at a stronger ban when he vetoed the proposed ordinance Feb. 11.

The council on Jan. 30 voted 19-9 in favor of expanding the citywide ban to include bowling alleys, hotel rooms and most bars. Tobacco shops, hookah bars and over-18 private clubs would have been exempted. The bipartisan vote fell one short of being veto-proof.

Ballard, however, said he couldn’t support the proposal because it made private clubs and fraternal organizations, including military-veterans groups, choose between allowing smoking on their premises or allowing patrons younger than 18 to enter. The ordinance, he said, posed an unfair dilemma for not-for-profit groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which raises money through family-oriented and children’s events at VFW posts.

Councilors Angela Mansfield and John Barth, both Democrats, are set to introduce a new proposal next Monday that is almost exactly the same as the last measure except that it no longer bans smoking at existing private clubs. New private clubs, those founded after April 1, would have to go smoke-free.

Mansfield said the proposed ordinance would be introduced Monday, go to the rules committee April 3 and could be voted on by the full council by April 16.

The proposal should face smooth sailing thanks to the change, Mansfield predicted.

"Obviously, it got passed by the council last time," she said. "The mayor was the problem; he vetoed it."
Advocacy group Smokefree Indy, which endorsed the last proposal, also backs the new one.

“The health of our work force is paramount to the vibrancy of our community," Smokefree Indy Chairwoman Lindsay Grace said in a prepared statement. "Eliminating health risks such as secondhand smoke from workplaces such as bars, taverns and bowling alleys will improve the lives of thousands of workers."

Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said the mayor's office was reviewing the plan.

"It definitely sounds on the surface of it, without having seen the language, like something that is closer to the mayor's position and very similar to the discussions we had in December and January," Lotter said.

The new city proposal is being supported by anti-smoking advocates, many of whom were dismayed by the state ban's exemption for bars and casinos.

"Eliminating health risks such as secondhand smoke from workplaces such as bars, taverns and bowling alleys will improve the lives of thousands of workers," said Lindsay Grace of Smoke Free Indy.

But some bar owners aren't giving up hope on halting an expansion of the city's restrictions.

"I think it's still a winnable fight," said Brad Klopfenstein, a spokesman for the Tavern League of Indiana. "It affects the neighborhood bars the most. The ones that are downtown and cater more to a business clientele or a tourist clientele, they're not going to be nearly as affected as the places farther out that see the same people (each night)."


  • Not Enough
    I commend you and congratulate you for being able to stop smoking back in 1998. If you look at the details of the recently enacted watered down statewide smoking restrictions law you will see that the law specifically allows local venues to make laws that are more restrictive than the statewide law, so Indianapolis can and should make its law more restrictive. The state law is one of the weakest statewide laws that exist in the country. I disagree that the American Cancer Society should not be involved in pushing for a comprehensive Indy smoking law. Indianapolis needs as much help as it can get to see that a law is enacted to help protect those who live and work in the city from having to breathe in toxic tobacco smoke in their daily lives. Oh, by the way, smoking either by inhaling directly or via breathing secondhand smoke does cause cancer, heart disease and a multitude of other diseases. I think it's time you take you head out from under the sand on this matter.
  • It's Called the Right to Breathe Clean Air!
    So let's level get all of this out in the open.

    Smoking is not a right (It's not in the U.S. Constitution). It is a behavior of addiction. And why should this behavior be regulated indoors?

    First, review the facts about why we regulate businesses to operate with safety in mind:

    We have health codes in restaurant/bar kitchens so people don't eat contaminated food. We have building codes so buildings don't collapse. We have fire codes so people don't burn to death. And now all we want is clean air to breathe?

    Smoking produces air pollution. You take a cancer stick of tobacco and set it on fire! Now you have smoke!

    What business has a right to have polluted air indoors? What business has a right to contaminate the lungs of its workers and patrons? It's called the right to breathe clean air! Breathing clean air trumps setting cigarettes on fire!
  • It's called freedom of choice
    Establishments that restrict patrons to 21 or over should be allowed to establish their own smoking policies. At that age people can make their own choice of whether they want to frequent the establishment or not. It also goes without saying that VFW’s or any organization that is veterans oriented should be allowed to make their own rules, they earned it.
    How about a ban on fatty foods and high calorie cocktails, Indiana is a poster child for obesity and I guarantee you it costs us all a lot more to pay for their health problems than it does the rare case of second smoke attributed only to frequenting a bar where there is smoking. It’s an individual’s choice to frequent a smoking establishment or work there. So get off the second hand smoke BS, you don't like it, don't go there. I know, I know what about the people that work there. Go and ask them, the overwhelming number of people that work in smoking bars smoke themselves and there are plenty of that kind of job out there. I'm sick of government trying to control everything we do. How about a ban on council members and others intruding on all of our individual rights?
  • Excuse me?
    Ronal-Your atrocious spelling should tell me that you're not a highly educated individual. So, I should disregard your misconception that smoking doesn't cause cancer. If you choose to smoke, have at it! Do it in your car, in the privacy of your home, or outside. Just don't drag me down with your suicidal behavior and lack of information.
  • To Ronal
    Ronal... where do you practice medicine at? I'll make sure to steer clear of your doctor's office.
  • Banned
    Did the dead horse we're flogging die from cancer or was simply flogged to death the old fashioned way?
  • Fair Play
    Your right! Just line us up and shoot us. Make us stand out in the bitter cold to smoke. We arn't cool like your freinds on the east coast(who are some of the most onnoxious people I've ever met)Anti smokers are not very nice to us.
  • Enough is enough
    I haven't smoked a cigarette since 1998, but it was my decision to stop smoking. Not the governments! The state of Indiana recently encacted a law to ban smoking in certain venues. That should be enough! To add to the that law should not be permitted without the state's approval. One more thing. The American Cancer Society should stay out of this fiasco. Smoking does not cause cancer. Lung problems? Yes, but not cancer. Everyone has cancer cells at birth. Some remain dormant while others' become malignant. But smoking is not the reason. Your diet and exercise is. So, banning smoking is not the answer to curing cancer.
    • Smoke proposal
      This is getting pretty heavy handed and is out of control. I no longer smoke so it doesn't bother me but I getting turned off by all the excuses to restrict peoples rights to make their own business decisions. Now you need to ban tobacco products all together and stop collection sales and excise tax at the expense of smokers.

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