Proposed smoking ban aimed at SB bars and private clubs

Published: Mar. 9, 2016 at 6:41 PM EST
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There will be a third attempt to ban second hand smoke in all public places in South Bend.

A proposed clean air ordinance filed today targets an estimated 60 to 70 bars and private clubs that still allow indoor smoking. A public hearing and possible vote on the measure is scheduled for March 28th.

“The fix is in and I can see it coming, expected it,” said Roy Chevrie, owner of the Rum Village Inn. “They just don’t care, they just got an agenda they want to push and I have not a clue why.”

The last vote on a proposed smoking ban came just 20 months ago in July of 2014 when the council defeated the measure by a vote of 5 to 4.

But that was then and this is now: Four of the council members who took part in the last vote are no longer on the council, including three of the “no” votes (Dieter, Davis, Schey), while three of the four newcomers have signed on as co-sponsors of the smoking ban (Voorde, Broden, Kelly).

“If we had say, two supporters, or if there was just one supporter, I wouldn’t think that introducing this again would be worth the effort, but I think in this instance my conversations with other council members leads me to believe that we do have the majority of the council in support of a comprehensive clean air policy,” said Councilman Gavin Ferlic, (D) At Large.

The development doesn’t give Chevrie and other bars owners much time to celebrate their last victory. “This ain’t Russia, this ain’t China, this is the United States of America. I’m a Marine Corps veteran, I fought for their rights and I’m fighting for them again.”

For clean air advocates, it just makes sense to keep trying to take a policy that now protects employees at most city businesses and apply it to all businesses.

“Often service sector employees don't have a lot of choice where they work and to expose them to toxic chemicals day after day, it’s really not a great thing for their health,” said Councilman Gavin Ferlic, (D) At Large.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say a white collar employee is protected in their workplace when someone who works in hospitality isn’t protected,” said Karl Nichols with Smoke Free St. Joe. “That’s just not good business as a community to treat people unequally.”

The proposal would also ban the use of e-cigarettes or vape pens indoors and even offers protection from hookah and marijuana smoke.

Smoking would be allowed in outdoor seating areas of bars and restaurants as long as those establishments did not allow access to patrons under the age of 18.