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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Council gives final approval to smoking ban

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

(Photo)
Council President John Lanie listens to the concerns of a residents about a smoking ban in Greencastle. The City council voted 3-2 in favor of approving a citywide smoking ban.
An anxious, and often vocal, crowd of about 100 people stood by at city hall Tuesday night as members of the Greencastle City Council voted to approve a citywide smoking ban.

Cheers and frequent jeers rang out during the nearly two-hour ordeal, forcing Mayor Nancy Michael to stop the action several times to ask the crowd to quiet down.

In the end, council members appeared about as divided as the crowd of spectators when they voted 3-2 to approve the highly controversial ordinance banning smoking in enclosed public places, including all restaurants, bars, retail businesses and indoor places of employment.

Council members John Lanie, Bob Sedlack and Russ Evans voted for the smoking ban, while Tom Roach and Mark Hammer voted against it.

Included in the ordinance Tuesday night was an exemption for private clubs, such as the Moose, Elks and Eagles lodges. According to the ordinance, smoking will be allowed at private clubs if they are closed to the general public. In the event that a private club hosts a public event, smoking will be prohibited during those times.

The exemption for private clubs was a complete reversal of what the council approved in April during the first of two required readings of the ordinance. In April, council members voted to remove the exemption for private clubs, sparking a wildfire of criticism from members of the private clubs who believed the council was going to exempt them from the ordinance.

But club members' anger turned to cheers Tuesday night as the council reversed its April decision, allowing the exemption for private clubs to be put back in the ordinance.

Councilman Lanie was the one who suggested the exemption for private clubs be put back in the ordinance Tuesday night.

"It may be hard to enforce the private clubs," he gave as his reasoning for the decision.

Councilman Sedlack, who expressed support for some type of smoking ban from the beginning, offered his support for the exemption of private clubs.

"I have pushed for a comprehensive ordinance," he said. "I think it's a good compromise."

Councilman Evans added, "I believe this is a fair decision for Greencastle."

But Councilman Hammer said he felt the exemption gave private clubs an unfair advantage over restaurants and bars.

Many businesses owners, including those from Moore's Bar and the Putnam Inn, told the council in April that they felt their businesses would fail because of the smoking ban. They reiterated their feelings Tuesday night.

Midway through the meeting, it appeared a compromise for bars and restaurants was on the horizon. But it wasn't to be.

Councilman Hammer, who said he wanted the ordinance to be "fair and equitable to all," suggested certain allowances for bars and restaurants, in addition to the private clubs. He suggested allowing bars and restaurants with bars inside of them to have smoking areas, as long as they were separated by walls and doors and had proper air ventilation systems installed.

Some restaurant and bar owners in the crowd spoke up and told the council they would be willing to incur the costs to install ventilation systems and walls if they would be allowed to have smoking.

Hammer also called for private clubs to be completely exempt from the smoking ordinance, regardless of whether the public was invited.

But when it came time to vote on his suggestions, only he and councilman Roach voted for support. Sedlack, Lanie and Evans voted against it, meaning Hammer's motion died.

Also against Hammer's motion was Meredith Williams, coordinator of the Putnam County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition.

She went to the podium and said the coalition would not support the ordinance if bars and restaurants were given exemptions.

She said the goal of the coalition is to protect workers and that by exempting restaurants and bars, those workers were still at risk.

The statewide director of the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition was also in the crowd Tuesday night.

Karla Sneegas talked about the results of studies she said suggest ventilation systems do not remove the dangers of secondhand smoke. She warned the council that studies have shown that carcinogens remain in the air despite ventilation and are still harmful to anyone who breathes them in.

After the meeting, Tim Spurlock, administrator of the Greencastle Moose Lodge, said he was pleased the council decided to exempt private clubs from the ordinance, however, he said he was concerned about the bars and restaurants who are not exempt.

"I feel sorry for the Moore's Bar and different ones," Spurlock said. "I feel sorry for the private business owners."

In the end, when the votes were cast, Spurlock and a majority of audience members clapped, appearing to be in support of the council's decision. The ordinance goes on the books Sept. 1.

As with all ordinances, the complete smoking ordinance is available to the public by contacting city hall.



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