Sponsor: 'No way' smoking ban would pass in current form

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A proposal to strengthen Indianapolis’ workplace smoking ban is set to come before the City-County Council on Monday night, but one of the bill’s sponsors wants to send it back to committee for more work before a final vote.

“There’s no way it would pass in its current form,” said Republican Ben Hunter, who co-sponsored the measure with Democrat Angie Mansfield.

As written, the proposal would broaden an existing law than prohibits smoking in most public places to include bars, bowling alleys and private clubs. An existing law already bans smoking in restaurants that serve minors.

Council members tabled the issue in late October when it fell short of the 15 votes needed to either pass or fail. It was placed on Monday’s agenda because city law says that indecisive votes must be revisited at the next council meeting.

Although it’s possible that the council will vote on the matter Monday night, Hunter said he plans to ask that it be sent back to committee first. He said more time is needed to reconcile the differences between supporters and opponents.

“This allows political emotions to die down and everyone can look at the bill on its merits,” he said.

The smoking ban has been the subject of controversial, months-long debate.

Council members voted 13-12 against the ban on Oct. 26, largely along party lines. Four Republicans supported the measure, but Democrats Dane Mahern and Monroe Gray abstained from voting.

Hunter does not expect to gain any more support from Republicans, but supporters could try to persuade Mahern and Gray to vote for the bill. Spokespeople from both councilors’ offices say they will abstain again if the vote occurs Monday.

Doris Minton-McNeill, also a Democrat, has yet to vote on the measure as well. She has not attended any of the sessions when the bill has been discussed.

Supporters also are hoping to sway Mayor Greg Ballard, who has opposed the measure. Ballard met with council Republicans before the Oct. 26 vote to urge them to vote against the legislation. Mansfield said his unwillingness to meet with the architects of the bill has left her frustrated.

“He’s never spoken one word to me,” Mansfield said. “He’s completely in the dark.”

Still, Hunter said Ballard’s chief of staff told him the mayor is willing to meet with councilors from both sides of the aisle, indicating that he may have softened his original stance.

The bill has drawn supporters and opponents in large numbers. Brad Klopfenstein, former executive director of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, is the spokesman for a group called Save Indianapolis Bars. The group, whose members wear red shirts to show opposition to the ban, will be meeting in the council’s chambers tonight before the vote to rally against the bill.

“I’m hoping this will go away,” Klopfenstein said. “Look at the numbers. Fewer than 400 places in Marion County still allow smoking. Leave the last 1 percent alone. It’s still a legal product.”

Melissa Lewis, chairwoman of the advocacy group Smoke Free Indy, said her supporters, who wear green shirts, will continue to fight until the bill is passed.

“We remain hopeful we will see the ordinance pass,” Lewis said. “We know the councilors are hearing from their constituents and there is real support in the community.”

The council meets at 7 p.m.


  • The lies about second-hand smoke
    The controversy of second hand smoke could be ended quickly by a simple act of legislation. Anyone presenting information represented as science or health reliant information, which is later found to be false or misleading, would be rewarded with a mandatory ten year jail sentence.

    I can guarantee the bandwagon of smoker hatred would end overnight and the profiteers would be making deals in self preservation convicting each other. Similar to the last time their ilk rose to prominence and Doctors were hanged at Nuremberg. The laws of Autonomy created in the wake, are largely being minimized by the bigots and zealots of Public Healthism, they are laws we found at the expense of millions who died without them. No one has the right to make health choices for others and no one has a right to demand rights to the detriment of others, especially with the convenience of a lie, as we find in the â??toxic effect of second hand smokeâ??.

  • Government power the real health hazard
    Government power the real health hazard

    The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling across the nation has nothing to do with protecting people from the supposed threat of "second-hand" smoke.

    Indeed, the bans are symptoms of a far more grievous threat, a cancer that has been spreading for decades and has now metastasized throughout the body politic, spreading even to the tiniest organs of local government. This cancer is the only real hazard involved â?? the cancer of unlimited government power.

    The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or is in fact just a phantom menace, as a study published recently in the British Medical Journal indicates. The issue is: If it were harmful, what would be the proper reaction? Should anti-tobacco activists satisfy themselves with educating people about the potential danger and allowing them to make their own decisions, or should they seize the power of government and force people to make the "right" decision?

    Supporters of local tobacco bans have made their choice. Rather than trying to protect people from an unwanted intrusion on their health, the bans are the unwanted intrusion.

    Loudly billed as measures that only affect "public places," they have actually targeted private places: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops and offices â?? places whose owners are free to set anti-smoking rules or whose customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't like the smoke. Some local bans even harass smokers in places where their effect on others is negligible, such as outdoor public parks.

    The decision to smoke, or to avoid "second-hand" smoke, is a question to be answered by each individual based on his own values and his own assessment of the risks. This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend or sleep with, whether to go to college or get a job, whether to get married or divorced, and so on.

    All of these decisions involve risks; some have demonstrably harmful consequences; most are controversial and invite disapproval from the neighbours. But the individual must be free to make these decisions. He must be free because his life belongs to him, not to his neighbours, and only his own judgment can guide him through it.

    Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Smokers are a numerical minority, practising a habit considered annoying and unpleasant to the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the power of government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

    That is why these bans are far more threatening than the prospect of inhaling a few stray whiffs of tobacco while waiting for a table at your favourite restaurant. The anti-tobacco crusaders point in exaggerated alarm at those wisps of smoke while they unleash the unlimited intrusion of government into our lives. We do not elect officials to control and manipulate our behaviour.

    Thomas Laprade
    Thunder Bay, Ont.
    Ph. 807 3457258
  • sad
    It's troubling to see people such as Bob devoting so much time, energy, and circumlocution in support of nothing more than drug addiction. But I guess such behavior is to be expected from addictions--shift all personal responsibility for managing their unhealthy addiction onto other corporations. Political lobbying aside by RWJ and others, the tobacco companies hands remain far dirtier: these days nicotine is more addictive than heroin.
  • Endless money.
    These smoking bans will probably go down in history as one of the greatest marketing scams ever by having drug companies using tax exempt political action committees calling themselves "charities" and contributing huge sums of money to them. The money is endless.
    Here's the beginning of the latest ban movement in the USA.


    Here are the instructions from Johnson and Johnsons' (makers of cessation products) RWJ Foundation for their tax exempt political action committees. (charities?) Note on page seven the "inside-out" provision, banning smoking on patios AFTER business owners spend thousands to build them for their smoking customers, clearly showing that they have ABSOLUTLY NO CONCERN for local issues or businesses.
    Also note on the last page, they are instructed to keep returning every year until ALL exemptions, are gone. You may need to CTRL and scroll to readi it.


    Here's the "model" ban from page eight of the instruction book. A prewritten "smoking ban for dummies" from page eight of the tobacco control handbook. Just fill in the blanks naming your community, the name of your leader, and a few details to firt your individual community:


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  1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

  2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

  3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in 1997...in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

  4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............