Council to reconsider South Bend smoking ban Monday The South Bend Common Council will revisit a possible smoking ban during Monday's meeting.

The proposal would go a step further than the state's by banning smoking in bars and private clubs.

The council tabled the issue in May, after several members asked for more information.

Since then, sponsor Gavin Ferlic met with the city of Mishawaka to discuss whether they would consider adopting a ban. Neither Mishawaka or St. Joseph County is interested in doing so anytime soon.

That's why South Bend bar owners are hopeful the council will vote the proposal down Monday.

"It would clearly isolate us if we couldn't allow smoking and bars in Mishawaka and the county could," said Gary Weese with Jeannie's Tavern. "It would give them an unfair advantage and we all realize that many of our customers would migrate to those bars and that would be an enormous business impact for us."

Councilwoman Valerie Schey met with Weese and several other South Bend bar owners last week. That meeting lead her to request being removed as a sponsor of the bill. In a statement, Schey said she was worried about the impact a strict ban would have on small businesses.

"I think she understands the business problem we're facing and that this isn't fair the way this is being proposed," Weese said.

But, Valissa Williams says passing the ban is an urgent health issue.

Two years ago, her husband died from a combination of stomach cancer and second hand smoke exposure.

"He frequently visited different clubs and restaurants in the city and he was around a lot of people who did do smoking," she said.

Smoke-Free St. Joe has been working to get the ban adopted for more than two years.

They argue it's not just a health issue, but also an employee rights issue.

"If you're going to protect some workers, why not protect all?" said Karl Nichols with Smoke-Free St. Joe. "You can't smoke in an attorney's office and we want to make sure all employees are on a level playing field."

Members of the public will have a chance to speak out about the bill during the Health and Public Safety committee meeting at 5 p.m. Monday. Only the council will debate the issue at their regular 7 p.m. meeting.

"We want to make sure we call for the vote, get the vote out and see what happens," Nichols said.

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