South Bend smoking ban needs more support to pass
June 12, 2012 2:58PM
Updated: June 12, 2012 11:18PM
SOUTH BEND (AP) — Supporters of a proposal to ban smoking in bars in South Bend need to gain the backing of at least one more City Council member to win approval and change its status as Indiana’s largest city to still allow bar patrons to light up.
Four City Council members are sponsoring an ordinance, with the five other council members having either expressed opposition or said they’re undecided, the South Bend Tribune reported.
The proposal introduced Monday would be stricter than a statewide ban taking effect July 1 that will prohibit smoking in restaurants, but allow it in bars, casinos, retail tobacco shops and private clubs.
Councilwoman Valerie Schey, a sponsor of South Bend’s proposed ordinance, said the primary goal is to protect the health of people who work in bars.
“Scientifically, it’s well established that secondhand smoke poses a significant health risk, and, as members of the South Bend City Council, I think it is our duty to encourage and enact legislation that protects the health and wellbeing of our citizens,” Schey said.
A ban on smoking in bars in Indianapolis took effect June 1, bringing the state’s largest city in line with Fort Wayne, Evansville, Bloomington, Delaware County (Muncie), Elkhart, West Lafayette and others. A similar ordinance takes effect in Terre Haute in July.
The South Bend council has scheduled a June 18 public hearing on the proposal, with a vote possible as soon as June 25.
Council President Derek Dieter told WNDU-TV that he believed businesses should make the decision on whether to allow smoking but that he was also concerned about the city having tighter restrictions than surrounding St. Joseph County, where smoking in bars is allowed.
“I think it should be countywide,” Dieter said. “It’s not fair to a city resident or city business that if this were to pass and I have no idea if it would, for someone to be able to go into the county and do the same thing.”
The proposal calls for any business that violates it to receive verbal and written warnings for the first offense. A second violation within the same calendar year would carry a $200 fine that would grow to $1,500 after a fifth violation.