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Indy strengthens smoking ban


  • Photo courtesy of Dave Hull via Flickr Creative Commons

Indy bars will go Smoke-free on June 1. Mayor Greg Ballard signed the smoke-free ordinance passed earlier this week by the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council.

The move represents closure following years of political posturing and efforts to find compromise between public health issues and civil liberties infringement concerns. It is more expansive than a statewide smoking ban signed by the governor following the 2012 General Assembly, which is set to take effect July 1.

Exemptions remain nonprofit private clubs (such as veterans' organizations), off-track betting parlors and existing cigar/hookah bars.

Smoke Free Indy issued a statement of support noting that the new law represents "the culmination of more than a decade of work."

"Today, workers in our bars and taverns, bowling alleys, hotels and motels can celebrate. They no longer have to go to work in smoke-filled environments," Smoke Free Indy Chair Lindsay Grace said in the release.

"Seven years ago, the workers and citizens of Marion County scored their first victory when smoking was taken out of our restaurants. Since then, public perception and public expectations about smoke free workplaces has continued to grow. In fact, as of last fall, approximately 70 percent of Marion County voters wanted a more comprehensive smoke free law that would include bars and taverns."

At 7 p.m. Thursday night Mayor Ballard tweeted, "I just signed into law the smoking ban ordinance."

The two-thirds majority support ratio seemed in tact based on the responses posted in reply.

As of 10:30 a.m. Friday morning, of five replies two decried the blanket ban and three conveyed messages of thanks.

"@MayorBallard Thank You!!! I love a smoke free city!!!" tweeted Gabriella Fangman.

David Crumley, the first to reply, wrote, "@MayorBallard thanks for taking away the right to choose from everbody (sic) in town. I guess whats (sic) good for a few is good for everybody."

Councilman at Large John Barth, a Democrat and one of the ordinance's sponsors, issued a statement saying that is "very pleased that Mayor Ballard signed Proposal 136 so quickly after it's passing by the City/County Council. And, he added, "I'm proud of the council for passing an ordinance that will improve the quality of life for our citizens."

Barth's colleague, Republican Councilor Benjamin Hunter, also issued a statement of support.

"Today we've done something that demonstrates that we think those who work and live in Indianapolis are world-class citizens," his statement read. "Today we've put their health and their quality of life as a top priority. There is no doubt in my mind that Indianapolis will be better off due to our efforts. I applaud my fellow councilors and the mayor for doing what is right."

Bars in Speedway, Lawrence and Beech Grove, cities not incorporated under the Indy's UniGov umbrella, will not be affected by the ordinance.

"It is encouraging to see the city of Indianapolis taking steps to protect workers in bars and taverns from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke," said Amanda Estridge, manager of government relations for the American Cancer Society, in a news release.

"While not perfect, this ordinance goes beyond the new statewide law, which is one of the weakest in the nation. We will continue the fight to protect all Indiana workers from harmful secondhand smoke, including those employed at private clubs."


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