South Bend council considering smoking ban once again

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Some South Bend Common Council members want the city to reconsider a smoking ban, which would include bars and private clubs.

A similar proposal didn't even make it to a vote back in 2012 because of strong opposition from bar owners and other council members.

But, Gavin Ferlic, Fred Ferlic, Valerie Schey and Tim Scott want to give it another shot.

"I wouldn't say I'm overly confident," said Gavin. "However, the tobacco-free coalition has done a phenomenal job."

Gavin says the group's efforts could help win the community over. But, many local bars still strongly oppose the idea. They're afraid customers will take their business to neighboring communities, where strict smoking bans aren't in place.

Gavin says there's no data to support the idea that a ban hurts business. He says the "clean air ordinance" focuses on improving public safety.

"It's an important issue for employee safety," he said. "People shouldn't have to work in an environment that exposes them to secondhand smoke."

But, Councilman Derek Dieter says it's not their place to tell private businesses whether they can allow smoking inside or not.

"The intent of keeping people healthy I agree with," Dieter said. "But, taking the step of telling a private entity what they should do, I don't think it's a step that we should be taking."

First reading of the bill is scheduled for Monday. The council could vote on the measure as early as May.

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