Council tables smoking ban

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Efforts to broaden Indianapolis’ workplace smoking ban came up short Monday night as members of the City-County Council voted to table the proposal.

The ordinance would have prohibited patrons from lighting up in bars, bowling alleys and nightclubs, expanding an existing law that prohibits smoking in most public places, including restaurants that serve minors. Council members were split on the issue, with 12 members voting for the proposal and 13 against; the measure needed 15 votes to pass.

Council members could resurrect the ordinance at a future meeting.

Bill sponsors Angela Mansfield, a Democrat, Republican Ben Hunter and other proponents were unable to rally sufficient support for the proposal, despite a 4-2 community affairs committee vote Oct. 14 that advanced the ordinance to the full council.

Before the vote, councilors on both sides of the issue voiced concerns.

“We know for certain second-hand smoke is not an annoyance,” said Democrat Brian Mahern. “It’s a health risk. There is no such thing as safe second-hand smoke.”

Mahern’s appeal to the council drew the most spirited reaction from Smoke Free Indy, the advocacy group that came dressed in green shirts to show support for the proposed ordinance.

On the other side of the aisle, an alliance of bar owners and other opponents sported red shirts and stood in ovation upon Libertarian Ed Coleman’s remarks to the committee.

“Adults can make decisions,” Coleman said. “They choose to work [in smoking environments]. They choose to walk in there.”

Hunter introduced the proposal by citing non-smoking workers in smoking establishments as having no choice in their working environment. The councilor also said the proposal would help get Indianapolis up to speed with other communities that have banned smoking.

“There’s no doubt we need to move forward and join 70 percent of the rest of the nation,” he said.

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