Committee votes down proposed smoking ban

A proposed measure that would have completely banned smoking in public locations was voted down Tuesday.

Indianapolis

Bars where you can light up still have the green light. A proposed measure that would have completely banned smoking in public locations was voted down Tuesday. The City-County Council's Rules and Public Policy Committee voted 6-2 against sending the measure to a full council.

Those in favor included Michael McQuillen and Ryan Vaughn. Those opposed included Bob Cockrum, Monroe Gray, Robert Lutz, Angela Mansfield, Angel Rivera and Joanne Sanders.

An overwhelming number of citizens showed up in support of the smoking ban, the majority of whom were 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," said Vaughn.  

Part of that compromise included certain exceptions. The ban would have brought down the number of smoking establishments from 350 to 60 but smoking would still be allowed at hookah and cigar bars. With a newly added amendment, smoking would also have been allowed in separate rooms at private clubs.

Bar owners said they're happy the ban won't go into effect because they want a level playing field for businesses.

"I'm not for anything unless it's across the board, everything or nothing. I wouldn't mind seeing a state ban all together," said Joe Wilson, bar owner.

Some council members who voted no said they want a stricter ban for the safety of all employees.

"To be put in a position to weigh out this group of workers is valuable enough to be protected but this group of workers is not is a conundrum," said Sanders.

As council members hope to sort out difference in the future, one thing looks certain: Indy won't be smoke free before the big game.

"I don't think it's legally possible to get anything passed and enforceable before the Super Bowl so that's a little disappointing. We want to put our best foot forward for the city and this smoke free law would have helped with that," said Lindsay Grace, Chair of Smoke Free Indy.

Mayor Ballard released the following statement following the vote: "I am thoroughly disappointed that council Democrats placed partisan game playing ahead of a commonsense smoking ban proposal for our city."

Council Democrats said they believe they can get a stricter ban drafted next month when several of the newly-elected democratic council members will take their positions. Republicans said they believe they’ve missed their chance at getting any sort t of smoking ban passed, though.

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