City-County committee nixes tougher smoking ban

An Indianapolis City-County Council committee has snuffed out a stricter smoking ban for the city.

The City-County Council's Rules and Public Policy Committee voted 6-2 Tuesday night against sending the measure to a full council, with all three Democrats and three of five Republicans voting against the measure.

The Republican-introduced proposal would have banned smoking at all Indianapolis businesses except cigar and hookah bars, tobacco retailers and not-for-profit private clubs. The proposal received support from Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, anti-smoking activists and a group of Indianapolis bar owners.

But some Democrats argued the measure didn't go far enough. Supporters had been hoping to have the new rules in place in time for the Super Bowl.

Voting in favor were Republicans Michael McQuillen and Ryan Vaughn, who sponsored the legislation. Those opposed were Republicans Bob Cockrum, Angel Rivera and Robert Lutz and Democrats Monroe Gray, Angela Mansfield,  and Joanne Sanders.

An overwhelming number of citizens showed up in support of the smoking ban and left surprised by the final vote.

"I'm surprised. I'm really disappointed. I think we're going to be exactly where we are four years from now. It's frustrating. I don't understand why compromise is such a difficult thing to come by," Vaughn told Fox59.  

The ban would have reduced the number of local smoking establishments from 350 to 60, Fox59 reported.

"I am thoroughly disappointed that council Democrats placed partisan game playing ahead of a common sense smoking ban proposal for our city," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said in a prepared statement after the vote.

The council could revive the proposal on a simple-majority vote on Monday at the request of the sponsors.

Council Democrats believe they can get an even tougher ban started next month after newly-elected Democratic council members begin their terms.

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