Local bar owners, patrons file lawsuit against city for smoking ban ordinance

Indianapolis

A dozen Indianapolis bars have consolidated individual lawsuits into one challenge in federal court against the city's new smoking ban.

In less than two weeks, bar owners claim business is down and employees have been laid off.

"Our business has been less than half of what it was," said Wanda Goodpaster of the Road Dog Saloon.

"We just don't have the people in there... We've had some come in and normally they'll have a couple beers and a cigarette and leave.

"Now they come in, have one beer, go out and smoke their cigarette and they leave."

Goodpaster said she's laid off a part-time waitress.

Beckie Hicks owns a neighborhood tavern, the Pit Stop, on South Meridian Street.

"We've had about a 60 percent drop in sales. Customers may come in, they may have a beer but say, 'We're not staying because we can't smoke.'"

Even entertainment and show bars are feeling the pain from the ban.

Brad Nicholson runs the 8 Second Saloon and Dancers West. He said business is off by up to 25 percent compared to a year ago.

"I've had people say that they enjoy it better but at the same time there are people, whether they smoke or don't smoke, tell me how can someone tell you what to do inside your own business?"

Nicholson said his west side bars are losing business to establishments in Speedway, which does not have a smoking ban and that disparity is at the core of the owners' federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Indianapolis bar owners are being singled out for unfair and unequal treatment since Speedway, Lawrence, Beech Grove and Southport bars are exempt from the ban. The amended complaint names Mayor Greg Ballard, the City of Indianapolis, County of Marion and the Indianapolis City-County Council as defendants.

Sponsors of the ban said they did not have the authority to stop smoking in those cities.
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