Bar owners file for injunction against Indianapolis smoking ban

Ten Indianapolis bar owners want to stop the strengthened smoking ban while a federal district court takes up the case.

Ten Indianapolis bar owners want to stop the city's strengthened smoking ban while a federal district court takes up the case.

The ban went into effect June 1. An attorney for the bars filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Monday morning. Several of the bar owners involved say they’ve lost as much as 60 percent of their business since the stronger smoking policy started. As a result, they say they've laid off workers or cut back their hours. Revenue from pool tables, jukeboxes and dart boards is also down sharply.

“There is no doubt that, contrary to what many of the proponents of the ban claimed, many Indianapolis bars have been harmed by the smoking ban,” said Mark Small, lead counsel for the bar owners. “All my clients’ bars are small, neighborhood taverns. Many of the owners have put their life savings into their bars and now they face the very real possibility that the city’s ban will put them out of business.”

The injunction filed on behalf of the bar owners questions the credibility of studies that concluded second hand smoke is dangerous to bar employees. Worker safety was a key factor in the city’s adoption of the smoking ban.

“The ordinance rests on a shaky foundation of flawed studies and junk science,” Small said.

This isn't the first legal action against the smoking ban. In May, the operators of eight bars and at least one smoker filed federal lawsuits claiming the law violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard signed the smoking ban into law in April. The ordinance banned smoking in all Indianapolis bars and gave private clubs the option to decide whether to go smoke free. The law is tougher than the statewide smoking ban that went into effect July 1.

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