People Ban: IN Terre Haute

Indiana Terre Haute update…

Workplace smoking ban passes Council
Terre Haute City Council votes 9-0 in adopt new ordinance but puts off implementation until July 1, 2012

January 14, 2011
ByArthur Foulkes

TERRE HAUTE — Heeding calls to make the city “more progressive” and a healthier place to work, the Terre Haute City Council voted 9-0 Thursday night in favor of banning smoking in all indoor places of employment beginning in July 2012.

About 150 people – for and against the ordinance – packed the City Hall courtroom to take part in or listen to about two hours of public discussion prior to the council vote.

Just before approving the ordinance, the nine councilmen voted 8-1 to change the ordinance to make it take effect in about 18 months. The original version of the measure was set to take effect 30 days after passage.

“At first, we weren’t crazy about the idea” of making the ordinance take effect in July, 2012, said Carrie Evans, director of Vigo County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation, which backed the ordinance. “Because…people are getting sick now. People need to be protected. But then we began to realize that that was maybe the only way that it was going to happen,” she said, speaking after the vote.

Several councilmen, led by George Azar, D-at large, sought the change to honor a promise made to local business owners when Vigo County passed its workplace smoking ordinance in 2006. The county’s ordinance includes language that states it will not be amended to affect bars until at least July of 2012. It would not be fair to those business owners to have the city ordinance take effect before July of next year, Azar said.

The single vote against pushing the effective date of the ordinance back to 2012 came from Councilman Todd Nation, D-4th. Speaking Wednesday, Nation said he wanted the ordinance to take effect this year, not next year. However, he then joined the rest of the council in voting in favor of the amended version of the nonsmoking ordinance.

“I think that this in an important enough issue that we wanted to send a unanimous signal” to both Vigo County officials and state lawmakers, Nation said after the vote.

“I’m pleased with the result,” said Councilman Rich Dunkin, D-1st, who sponsored the ordinance. “I think [a unanimous vote] sends a loud and clear message to Indianapolis” to pass a statewide workplace smoking law, he said. “I think the permanency of this thing is more important that the immediacy of it.”

For now, the ordinance changes nothing and at least one proposed amendment can be expected between now and July of next year. Councilman Norm Loudermilk, D-3rd, one of the strongest supporters of the ordinance, said he would propose an amendment to exempt private clubs, such as veterans clubs, for the workplace smoking ban.

Prior to voting, the council heard from about 20 members of the public. Nine people, including health care workers, spoke in favor of the ordinance and 11 people, including local business owners, spoke against it.

An ordinance that limits nonsmoking to bars within the city limits could be the “nail in the coffin” of some Terre Haute bars, said Steve Smith, owner of Ambrosini’s, a bar on Wabash Avenue. He favored a statewide law, he said.

Small neighborhood bars without much food business would also likely be harmed by the ordinance, said Bob Wiemuth, a local business owner who spoke against the ordinance. “They don’t have anything to fall back on,” he said.

But supporters of the ordinance brought up stories of themselves or family members harmed by tobacco smoke. They told the council the ordinance was needed to protect workers who had no choice but to work in smoking environments. “I think it’s time that we protect these workers,” said Brandon Halleck, who spoke to the council before their vote.
Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

Terre Haute smoking ordinance

Prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places within the city, including all places of employment.

This includes, but is not limited to, classrooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, vehicles and all other enclosed facilities.

The ordinance would also prohibit smoking within a “reasonable” distance from a building covered by the ordinance. A reasonable distance is defined as a distance adequate to prevent smoke from entering the building.

The city’s ordinance would allow smoking in private homes (except those used for daycare and health care facilities), some hotel and motel rooms, retail tobacco shops and outdoor places of employment.

The city ordinance is to be enforced by the Terre Haute Police Department and takes effect – as currently written – July 1, 2012.

Anyone violating the ordinance faces a fine of not more than $50. A person who owns or manages a place of employment where a violation takes place faces a fine of up to $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation and $500 for each additional violation within a calendar year.

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