News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 14, 2012

Smoking backers seek softer ordinance

Tavern owner bringing City Council a petition seeking change to state standards

TERRE HAUTE — A fiery debate is returning to the Terre Haute City Council tonight where opponents of the city’s pending smoking ordinance are expected to ask the legislative body to reconsider the measure they passed last year.

Bruce Adelman, owner of Bohannon’s East tavern, is leading the effort to ask the council to change the city’s ordinance to make it match the new state law, which takes effect July 1, the same day the city’s more restrictive ordinance goes into effect.

Adelman said he plans to make his case during the 30-minute public comment period at the beginning of tonight’s 6 o’clock City Council meeting in City Hall. The new state law prohibits smoking in most public places, but exempts bars, casinos and private clubs. The city’s ordinance only exempts tobacco shops and a small number of rooms in hotels or motels.

 “We have a very strong group like we’ve never had before,” Adelman said Tuesday evening at his east Wabash Avenue business, which will be required to become smoke-free next month. Adelman said he plans to present a petition to the council showing large numbers of people support adopting the state’s standards.

“There is no reason for this,” Adelman said of the city’s tougher ban, adding he believes it will force a significant percentage of the bars in town to close. “What about the employees?” he said. “What about that person who bought a bar within the last year or two and is mortgaged to the hilt?”

While Adelman and members of some private fraternal and patriotic organizations are expected to ask the council to change the city’s ordinance, supporters of the ban are also expected to make their presence known tonight.

“My goal is to remind the council that this was a good decision and that they should remain confident in their decision that they made almost 18 months ago,” said Alia Hazel, tobacco prevention and cessation program director for CHANCES for Indiana Youth in Vigo County. CHANCES is the lead agency for the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission, part of the Indiana State Department of Health. It was also the organization most instrumental in getting the city’s ordinance passed.

“Terre Haute was named as one of the most progressive cities in the state when the [Indiana] legislature was going through their state law hearings and debates,” Hazel said. “We got a whole lot of praise for being one of the most progressive cities, for having such an effective smoke-free-air policy.”

Smoke-free policies change the social norm about smoking “and it changes the way the youth look at smoking,” Hazel said. Smoke-free workplaces also encourage people to quit smoking, she said.

In January 2011, the City Council voted 9-0 to adopt the smoke-free ordinance, which bans smoking in virtually all indoor workplaces in the city.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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