Proposed South Bend smoking ban includes bars

The South Bend Common Council is set to consider a ban on smoking in bars and taverns later this month.

“South Bend is the largest city in Indiana without a comprehensive smoke free law,” said Jill Sabo of Tobacco Free St. Joseph County. “The whole idea behind this is equal and fair treatment to all workers; it is not really about the patrons.”

The proposed ordinance filed today is eligible for a public hearing and final vote at the council’s June 25th meeting.
Four of the nine council members have apparently signed on as co-sponsors.

“This is the way I feel, we pay our city, county, state taxes and have all the licenses and everything and it’s our business and now they’re trying to tell us how to run our business,” said Sharon Grimm of the City Limits Lounge.

At the City Limits, is seems there’s no limit to the number of times they’ll have to fight to remain ‘smoke filled,’ instead of smoke free.

Last year, in February of 2011, bars won the battle to remain exempt as St. Joseph County rejected proposed changes to the smoking ordinance it passed in 2006.

Three months ago, bars again dodged the bullet as the State of Indiana passed its own smoking ban.

Now, two and a half weeks from now, the City of South Bend will take up the matter.

“If the City of South Bend does this, and right across the street is Mishawaka and they’re smoking over in Mishawaka, that’s really going to hurt us,” said the City Limits’ Sharon Grimm.

Going to the city to get the job done is obviously not the first choice of smoking ban advocates. It’s more like the last resort.

“County doesn’t seem like they’re ready right now to take on a smoking ban,” said Common Councilman Gavin Ferlic. “So we, as a city, we’d like to take the lead and institute a smoking ban and we hope Mishawaka follows suit.”

While some bar owners will fight the proposal, not all are so inclined. In fact, the owner of Corby’s Irish Pub plans to go smoke-free—voluntarily--on Friday June 8th.

“I feel the smoking, the ban is inevitable, I think it’s coming here in the short term anyway, so I wanted to get out in front of it and take advantage of the opening of the kitchen promoting a more cleaner, healthy environment inside the bar,” said Joe Mittiga.

Mittiga says his decision was made well before he learned that the city would consider a bar smoking ban of its own.
As proposed, South Bend clean air ordinance 24-12 would not apply to private clubs and fraternal organizations. If 24-12 passes it would take effect on August 1st.

A competing ordinance, 21-12 was also filed today on behalf of Councilman David Varner. 21-12 would allow bars to choose to be smoking, or nonsmoking, as long as the status was clearly posted on the building for all to see.

21-12 is largely symbolic, since it does not represent a substantial departure from current smoking policy.

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