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Smoking ban bill sent back to committee

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The fate of a proposal that would impose a stricter workplace smoking ban in Indianapolis remains up in the air after the City-County Council voted Monday night to send the bill back to committee for further review.

Republican Ben Hunter, one of the bill’s sponsors, requested the delay in order to have more time to discuss its merits.

“Not every councilor has been looking at this extensively,” Hunter said. “All option have not been exhausted.”

The bill would prohibit patrons from lighting up in bars, bowling alleys and nightclubs, broadening an existing law that prohibits smoking in most public places, including restaurants that serve minors.

A council committee voted 4-2 to endorse the ban in mid-October, advancing it to the full membership for consideration. Council members tabled the issue in Oct. 26 when it fell short of the 15 votes needed to either pass or fail.

At their Monday meeting, councilors voted 20-7 to return the legislation to committee. Hunter said the bill likely will be reintroduced in February or March.

Ed Coleman, a Libertarian and vocal opponent of the proposed ordinance, said delaying the decision only frustrates constituents. Coleman said he had 770 signatures from citizens opposing the legislation.

“This is our third meeting to discuss this bill,” Coleman said. “Let’s get it over with.”

Hunter said before the meeting that he wanted to delay final vote on the measure in hopes of persuading more councilors to support the bill. However, the absence of co-sponsor Angela Mansfield, who was hospitalized Monday, gave members another reason to wait.

“We have always granted that honor to postpone the vote if the sponsor could not attend,” Democrat Monroe Gray said.

The controversial bill drew a crowd to the council meeting. Save Indianapolis Bars, a group that opposes the bill, brought a vocal majority wearing red shirts. The advocacy group Smoke Free Indy identified many supporters of the bill with green shirts. Spectators provided applause and boos during discussion of the bill.

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  • smokers will soon be obsolete
    If 37% of Indianapolis population are smokers, that certainly helps explain why Indiana is having such a hard time shedding its blue-collar, uneducated image. Not sure where you got those statistics but 97% of anything seems a bit of a stretch. The IBJ and Star represent business interests and "creative class" urbanites, both of whom overwhelmingly disfavor smoking because it is an economic development dead end. It's pathetic that this city which wants to be "world class" has to endure such a painful fight for a movement that is sweeping the nation. Or will Indy be last to take on this initiative as well? Smokers are drug addicts--condoning their behavior in public places is akin to government enabling of addiction. Nanny state indeed.
  • Smoking Ban
    There are only 130 something bar/pubs that allow smoking in Marion County and they are not affecting non-smokers. A recent poll showed that 97% of the employees in these establishments smoked. 37% of the Indianapolis population are smokers. These figures alone show that the current ban on smoking is working. It is a business's right to choose to be smoking or not. Everyone, including myself, has a choice on where to spend my money and time and where to work. The Indianapolis Star's editorial staff chose what side they are on and through my dollars, I will choose to disagree with their bias political rants. It is unfortunate in this day and age that we can not support two (2) newspapers in this City to have the views of everyone represented in print. But we all know that newspapers are almost obsolete, and we know the editors of this one already are. If, they can not be unbias, they do not deserve our money.

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  2. If you only knew....

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