Smoking concerns cloud city’s hosting of Big Ten tourney

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Indiana’s lack of a comprehensive smoking ban is taking center court with a group of Michigan State University alumni upset that their alma mater is paired this week with an Indianapolis bar where patrons are free to light up.

Certain downtown pubs and restaurants traditionally are matched with Big Ten universities during the conference’s men’s basketball tournament, which has been held annually in Indianapolis since 2008. This year’s event runs Thursday through Sunday.

The idea is to promote school spirit and give out-of-state visitors familiar places to congregate between games. Some bars have been hosting the same team for years, many because they have some kind of tie to the school. Kilroy’s Bar & Grill, for instance, has a connection to a bar of the same name in Bloomington. The bar on South Meridian Street is the designated gathering spot for fans of the Indiana University Hoosiers.

Kilroy’s is among eight non-smoking venues devoted to Big Ten universities. What disturbs the MSU alumni is that their school is paired with one of three smoking establishments—the Slippery Noodle Inn on South Meridian Street.

The other two are The Pub (University of Iowa) on East Georgia Street and O’Reilly’s (University of Michigan) on South Pennsylvania Street.

“Many Michigan State fans will not be happy leaving our smoke-free state and traveling to Indianapolis where we will have to put our health at risk by inhaling the secondhand smoke of others,” the MSU alumni wrote in a letter received by IBJ.

Michigan, whose ban took effect last year, joins Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin as Midwestern states that prohibit smoking in all public places. Nationwide, 27 states now boast comprehensive bans.

The Indiana House of Representatives passed a smoking-ban bill in January peppered with exemptions, such as bars, taverns, casinos and clubs run by fraternal organizations. The bill has been assigned to a Senate committee.

Indianapolis has a partial smoking ban, but allows smoking in establishments that prohibit anyone under the age of 21 to enter.

That three downtown bars waving Big Ten university flags this year allow smoking is a non-issue for the Indiana Sports Corp. It selects the universities and paired Iowa this year with The Pub, whose owners expressed interest in participating in the promotion, Sports Corp. spokesman John Dedman said.

“To be honest, we haven’t heard a whole lot of feedback (about smoking) from the alumni associations or the fans in general,” he said.

Neither has Hal Yeagy, a Purdue University graduate and owner of the Slippery Noodle Inn. His bar’s affiliation with MSU started back in 1980 when Indianapolis hosted its first of six college men’s basketball Final Fours.

Visits to the Slippery Noodle by Jud Heathcote, former longtime men’s basketball coach of the Michigan State University Spartans, helped keep the relationship intact through the years.

Yeagy dismissed the concerns from the MSU alumni, simply stating that the Slippery Noodle Inn “is a bar,” where smoking is allowed.

“It’s a very good draw for us,” Yeagy said of the tournament. “I’ve heard nothing specifically from Michigan State or Michigan State alumni.”

Indianapolis City-Council Councilor Angela Mansfield, though, thinks that could change as residents of smoke-free states become more acclimated to the relatively new bans.

Mansfield, a Democrat, has tried unsuccessfully to strengthen the city’s ban to include all public places and thinks such a ban might have a better chance of passing after the November elections, if Democrats can assume Council majority.

“It’s so embarrassing that we’re supposedly the amateur athletic capital of the world and we’ve got such an unhealthy environment when people come to visit,” she said.

The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, charged with marketing the city to tourists, businesses and organizations, is taking a neutral approach in the debate.

“Anytime a convention or major event has a visitor who expresses a concern, it’s our job to take note and look at their concern’s overall impact on the tourism and hospitality industry," ICVA spokesman Chris Gahl said.

Smoke Free Indy, a coalition dedicated to reducing secondhand smoke, will be distributing guides at downtown bars and hotels listing smoke-free establishments.

Its chairwoman, Melissa Lewis, echoed Councilor Mansfield’s sentiments.

Said Lewis: “We’re definitely becoming the ashtray of the Midwest.”


  • vote
    Why don't you.provide an alternative non smoking bar. Let people vote with their wallets. If a bar chides to allow smoking than they will give up a certain clientele.
  • move
    As a former smoker I choose like you not to frequent smoking places, but if you need more pampering why don't you and your family MOVE. Enough government intrusion
  • Do not force views
    I'm a former smoker; and I do NOT believe there should a smoking ban. I have a mind and can use that mind to make good / bad choices. If the smoke bothers me I don't go to that establishment. We don't need more government intrusion into our lives. Does anyone remember prohibition?????
  • Get with it
    Ok, you can have a choice to go to a smoking bar or a non smoking bar, but we have no choice of going to a smoking casino or a non smoking casino.Their non smoking sections are a joke. I'd go more often and stay longer if they had a non smoking casino.
  • So Behind
    It says something that New York, a city with great respect for individual freedom, and historical homes of North Carolina, which trace their fortunes from tobacco, have now set up no-smoking rules, whereas Indiana residents and the Legislature continue to turn a blind eye to this issue. How fortunate that Indiana has the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center where those of us nonsmokers affected by others' behavior find ourselves visiting as patients.

  • Ban It!
    My family, including children over the age of 21 will not frequent establishments that allow smoking. The smell we bring away with us, the irritated eyes and throats, and the health risks aren't worth it. It is great to travel to other states, where there are no exemptions for smoking in public. When is Indiana going to wake up?
    • We'll see what happens...
      Given the Big Ten Tournament is up for bid again, we'll have to wait and see if such city/state polices have an impact.
    • yet another typical and laughable retread...
      I couldn't help but shake my head when I read @Marcus post. Local and state lawmakers are not so much ignorant on the smoking issue, as they are with respecting that some would rather patronize smoking establishments, and don't want the right of entrepreneurs taken away just because of a very small and selfish minority(anti-smoking groups and supporters) wanting to take away free choice for both smokers and non-smokers(meaning non-smokers who don't mind smoking) that would rather go to a smoking establishment. Indy already has a smoking ban that balances the rights of smokers and non-smokers very, very well, allows free choice for businesses that would rather allow smoking inside(and correctly prohibiting it at places serving children), and doesn't need to be revised. Not to mention where smoking bans have been implemented, bars with voluntary no-smoking policies have sometimes been affected greater than ones permitting smoking:

      Also, why else did both lawmakers in Saint Joseph, Indiana county government, and the fiscal court in Campbell County, Kentucky both recently chose not to go forward with total smoking bans, and/or repeal them? Not to forget 2 Texas cities(most notably Galveston, but also Conroe) repealed smoking bans for bars and clubs last year, as well.

      Finally, as for @Lindsay, shouldn't you stop to think that at least some visitors to Indy would rather patronize smoking establishments, plus hotels and motels with smoker-friendly policies, due to the fact that many of these travelers choose Indy because of the fact they are tired of traveling to cities with excessive indoor and outdoor smoking bans? (not just LA, NYC, Boston, etc.) I know you don't want to admit it, but smokers should have just as much right to be able to go to smoking establishments, just as non-smokers should be able to patronize businesses prohibiting smoking. Patrons already can vote with their wallet for non-smoking businesses at all hours of operation, as many with voluntary no-smoking policies(including ones that only allow and employ those of adult age at all hours of operation) exist.

      Finally @JKR, you are misinformed about the ICVA. That organization already has been running obnoxious ads in the IBJ asking both local and state lawmakers to pass total smoking bans that would selfishly deny establishments only catering to adults the right to permit smoking, in case you missed those ads last year.

      Last but not least, it sounds like this Michigan State University alumni group has ignored the fact that about 500 bars protested Michigan's smoking ban this past New Year's Eve, and boycotted the state lottery last summer:
    • Heads should roll at the Indiana Sports Corporation
      Indiana Sports Corporation is the amateur sports champion, stimulating economic growth, inspiring healthy kids, and creating vibrant communities throughout Indiana.

      "Today, we are a catalyst for Indianapolis� thriving sports economy, earning Indiana its reputation as the Amateur Sports Capital."

      From the "Meet Us" page of the Indiana Sports Corporation.

      Whether or not Indianapolis or the state of Indiana imposes a smoking ban on all public places is a moot point for this issue. The individual(s) at the Indiana Sports Corporation who made a decision to partner with bars that have chosen to remain "smoking friendly" should rethink the execution of this idea on their way to the unemployment office. Smoking fans who come to our city can seek out places to smoke but that should be the exception. I don't think it is a stretch to associate health and well being The ISC should err on the side of conventional wisdom regarding health and safety even if it leaves a great bar like the Slippery Noodle out of the mix. That WOULD be letting the market speak.
    • We're ashtrays?
      How can Indianapolis, or those who live here, be ash trays?

      If they passed a law saying that all ash trays must be removed from public places, would we need to remove ourselves, because we're ashtrays?

      Why allow these people to claim that we're becoming the "ash tray of the Midwest" when obviously we're people, not ash trays?
    • Uh huh...
      So, some anonymous Michigan residents who attended MSU find out they 'have' to watch their games in a smoky bar when they come to Indiana. Incensed, they fire off a letter to IBJ. Really? I enjoy IBJ as an Indiana business paper, but I wouldn't expect anyone outside of the state to be overly familiar with it and it makes no sense that the supposed complaint would be directed to them. I just Googled 'Indianapolis newspaper' and IBJ didn't pop up until the third page of results, and that was an article about The Star. Honestly, I'd be fairly surprised if the letter justifying this article was written by anyone other than a local who wants a smoking ban.
    • geez
      Tom, if smoking is such a deterrent to business, why is the noodle packed most nights?

      Geez, live and let live.
    • It's about the smoke
      Inside a building, it's shared air. Secondhand smoke causes disease and death.
    • promoting drinking alcoho?
      So lets get this st eight. It is not ok to smoke in a bar that you have to be 21 enter. But on the other have promote drinking alcohol. Seems like people have their concerns a little turn around. How many people have been kill by a smoker getting into their car and driving. Why are people promoting drinking? MONEY?
    • Standard IBJ
      Just more of the IBJ's ongoing jihad against smokers and businesses that are still able to engage in free enterprise. One irate letter from a Michigan crybaby gets trumpeted and expanded into a three column tirade about how "backwards" us dumb ol' Indiana knuckle-draggers are who believe in the rights of private property owners.
      • Real simple question. How many alumni are concerned here? 1? 5? 50? If a handful, then why should the city or the bar change rules for a handful of people. If 50 or more, I am betting the bar will ban smoking to accomodate them. Until we know how many people are complaining, or have issues, then this is an incomplete article.
      • @Wise Guy
        By the way, the whole "bad guys are already carrying guns so we should too" argument is just laughable. Bad guys do LOTS of illegal things (hence the term), so by your logic we should make all those things legal too. You Second Amendment fetishists are a strange lot.
      • Hilarious
        Smoking isn't a "free market" issue. The only reason it's even legal at all is the fat tobacco lobbyist cash in Washington. Can you name one other readily available product on the market for which there's not one single safe use? Way to be in the pocket of the government, guys.
      • Choices
        This assumes all patrons of The Slippery Noodle are smokers and all alumni of MSU are non-smokers. I am a non-smoker who goes to the Slippery Noodle and 2 neices â?? 1 graduates this yr â?? are MSU students and smokers. Smoking in establishments is determined by law â?? patronizing an establishment is determined by choice. So, make your choice.
      • Smoke free for the tourney
        The bars can't go smoke free for a couple of days and then back to regular policy?...happens all the time other places...Birdy's, the Vogue, have all had shows where you can't smoke, it is usually the artists request that the audience not smoke...even though they don't have a permanent smoke free policy. I love the Noodle, but I rarely go there because of the smoke. It is a fair complaint...if the bar in question wants to participate in the tourney pairing with certain alma maters, they should agree to go smoke free for the run of the tourney. No one who patronizes the Noodle will die if they can't smoke in there for a couple of days.
        There oughtat be a law, but there isn't, so do what makes sense...if the bars won't be sensible, go somewhere else. And as for East Lansing, been there many times, plenty of people smoking, just not inside. It is no more healthy of a place than Indy, for sure.
      • MSU
        So this article is because of ONE letter from a MSU alum? Who cares? If one person complaining changed everything, can we complain about the secondhand effects of car exhaust downtown and ban cars too? Ridiculous.....Michigan people-- welcome to a city that doesn't force laws on its commercial (private) businesses. Here non-smokers and smokers vote with their wallets, so simply choose a smoke free establishment (rock bottom, kilroys, scottys, sahms, ram, etc.), they are here to serve you as well.
      • Free Market
        If this is truly a concern, then in a true free market without govt intrusion, the pub/bar can decide on their own if they would like to provide a smoke free environment for the MSU folks. They can post "no smoking from x day to y day". Let the ownership decide not a small minority dictating terms to the rest of us. I am a non-smoker that enjoys non-smoking environments...but get the govt out of this and everything else. That is a major reason for the mess we find ourselves in such a mess nowadays.
      • Indy as a Tourism Product
        Don't forget the negative impact of the 'Arizona' style immigration bill. Phoenix has already lost out on $110 million in convention revenue due to cancellations resulting from their new immigration law. They are poised to lose nearly $69 million more.
        Indiana is heading down the same path. Conventions are giving notice that if the immigration bill becomes law, they will cancel.
        Whether we like it or not, conventions and tourism make a lot of money for Indianapolis. From a capitalist standpoint, it's in the city's best interest to give people the product they want. Given the possibility that Indy will be losing a lot of money if the Super Bowl is canceled, we need to create the best product we possibly can in order to make up the loss. The smoking ban would only be a part of the product.
      • Uhmmm
        It's not that anyone can carry a gun. You would still need a premit to be legal. The illegal guys and gals already carry the guns...if we ban smoking, think these characters would not smoke anyway.
      • Oh and...
        Bad publicity is part of how the free market works. If the lack of a smoking ban goes into the "Con" column when it's time for this contract to be renewed (2012, I believe), then it could tip the scales against Indiana. That, or the "anyone can carry a gun anywhere" thing. Wouldn't that be funny....
        • Silly Sparty
          Lighten up Francis.

          In my experiences in East Lansing I have never witnessed anyone doing anything healthy.
        • Yay!
          Indiana continues to alienate the rest of the country at a record clip. We'll be the state full of obese, uneducated, unemployed smokers that our legislature wants us to be in no time. Go team!
        • Grow up
          Then find somewhere else to go. If the 75% of non-smokers chose not to go, the the Noodle will address accordingly in this free market. I do not believe the owner is a representative of the state, so at least he will not leave the state and close the bar...
        • Tavern on South
          Go to Tavern on South it is just down the block on South Street and is kid friendly and non-smoking.
        • MSU & Alcoholo
          MSU alum again - no we don't have a problem with alcohol...
        • ???
          This is about the worst example if a non-story there is. You don't like smoking... don't go to the bar. Funny that smoking is a problem but the MSU person has not problem with alcohol.
          • MSU Alum
            Live in Indy - MSU alum. Love my school - love my city (Indy). Agree with some comments here. Find another bar, stop whinning my brothers and sisters. I believe in free markets - if you don't like it go somewhere else. One of the best times we had was some give and take with Badgers at the 2000 final four. If we'd won the Big 10 - then complain!
          • Money
            Wouldn't it be a shame if, over time, the lack of a comprehensive smoking ban led to the city losing money because groups don't want to bring their events here? Or maybe the threat of losing money would be enough to make the legislators make the right decision to ban smoking across the state.

            Oh, wait, that second part must be something I dreamt.
          • Really
            Now is is being selfish here and what about their rights...
          • Who is speculating here!
            First question is how big is the group that don't want to smoke of the whole Michigan Alumni coming? Next question is are they too lazyto find another bar? Third question is should thye be more concerned with others carrying guns? First point, Democrats will not be getting more seats because they don't know how to show up now to work. Second point, this is not the first time a Michigan fan has come to a tournament here. Third point, dis anyone really stop traveling to events and other states because of smoking.
          • Move to another location
            Don't go! Find another establishment. Crash the party of another university....go to Scotty's with the Purdue Alumni! I would not want to cut through the smoke at Slippery Noodle. It's a fun bar, but it just gets "Thick" with smoke.

            Use twitter, facebook and any other communication devices and just go to another downtown establishment.
          • Pretty simple really...
            Smokers are the minority - so if anybody should be "staying at home", it's them! Enjoy your cancer in the privacy of your own home if you want to avoid judgement!
          • It's Time...
            I can't think of one bar that has gone out of business by going "smoke free". In fact, my friends and I avoid the smoking bars in favor of the non-smoking - and they are generally very busy. It's inevitable - all of Indy will be eventually smoke-free. Why "baby step" it? Our City Councilmen who are afraid of the bar lobby need to take their heads out of the sand.
          • Right (not)
            It's all about the almighty dollar, huh. We all should have the right to choose, and here we do, go to an establishment that allows smoking or don't, you want to take that away? Come on, no one that visits here or lives here has to breath second hand smoke if they don't want to. Like I said it's just simple common sense, don't try to make any more than that!
          • Get the word out!
            Find another place to congregate and get the word out that is where you are. Tell the non smokers to take their choice------
          • Yes to SF Air
            Thank you IBJ for bringing light to this issue. Why would we put people from smokefree states in bars that allow smoking? It's like going back in time, and does not make any sense. Just because Indy is not progressive and behind on this issue does not mean we have to prove it to visitors with their tourism dollars. This debate would be null and void if we just passed a law covering bars like the rest of the nation.
          • Replying to the other Kevin
            I was replying to the other Kevin's comment about drinking...
          • Irrelevant
            What does this have to do with the price of eggs in China?
            • NotVegas
              I agree with everything @MasterofTourism said. And to @whatever, asking them to stay home if they don't like the smoke would cause Indianapolis to lose millions in tourism dollars. We should accommodate to our guests and put our best foot forward. We should show that we care about the health and well being of our employees and our visitors. Smoking in bars is not our best foot forward.
              • Response
                Yes, let's blame smoking on all of our issues. How many smokers have you seen, drive down the wrong way of an exit ramp and kill a family of 5? Maybe we should rethink where our priorities should be focused. Drinkers and bars are the problems
                • what a bunch of clowns
                  "fine dont come then" Are you serious? Events like the Big 10 tournament are what keeps our economy going. I for one, support a smoking ban.
                • Avoid neutrality
                  Thank you to the MSU alum who spoke up about our city's lacking smoke-free air policy. Our policy is not protecting workers or visitors adequately.

                  I'm disappointed that the ISC and ICVA see this as a non-issue. Secondhand smoke exposure directly impacts the athletes who participate in their programs as well as the thousands of visitors who travel here with those programs. They ought to recognize the benefits of 100% smoke-free air.
                  • not enough time
                    coool dont come then. spending a weekend in a smoky bar will not kill you...also you dont HAVE to got to THAT bar.
                  • Know Your Attendees
                    11% of adults with an undergraduate college degree are smokers. 6% of adults with a graduate college degree are smokers. When hosting alumni from universities located in states with a smoking ban, don't pair them with a smoking bar in your city. They won't be happy with your event planning abilities.
                  • whatever
                    Tell 'em to stay home then.
                  • Backwater...
                    Sadly, our city and our state are controlled by individuals who are ignorant of the realities of public health and well-being. One need only consider our positions on (1) public smoking bans, (2) guns in all public areas, and (3) racial profiling. In all three, our backwater legislators have advocated positions that are offensive to the majority of the young, the educated, the healthy, and the wealthy. You don't need to be young, educated, healthy, or wealthy to appreciate that we need those groups to choose Indy. All are groups our city and state need if we are to remain competitive in the coming decades.

                    Unfortunately, I think these policies will remain until Indy loses the right to host NCAA tournaments, Big Ten tournaments, GenCon, or a similarly-situated large convention. Despite what that would do for the local economy, I hope we can look forward to this happening soon, so that we can finally wipe these backwards ways from our otherwise economy-focused policies.
                  • Blah blah blah
                    There is always somebody or some group offended by something. Michigan is the only Midwest state, and one of a minority of states, to have a motorcycle helmet law. How embarassing -- unless you support the law.

                    Las Vegas, one of the nation's top convention cities, has a smoking ban similar to Indy and the public and tourists seem OK with it.
                  • Shup
                    Yeah, people going to imbibe a lot of alcohol are seriously concerned about their health.

                    Also, eight of the eleven establishments are smoke free. The nonsmokers have the lions share of the bar scene. So use some of that "clean" air and hold your breath, okay?
                  • Common sense
                    Simple, don't patronize those establishments if you are that concerned. There are plenty of non smoking venues in Indy. This is such BS!

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