News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 2, 2012

Smoked out: Bans take effect

First day of ban on lighting up indoors draws mixed reactions from smokers

TERRE HAUTE — Opinions varied as smokers steamed in triple-digit heat outside their clubs Sunday afternoon.

A statewide smoking ban swept across Indiana July 1, while a much stricter version passed by the Vigo County Commissioners came into play locally. Smoking is prohibited in virtually all indoor places within the county now, with the exception of private residences and tobacco stores.

Inside the American Legion, Wayne Newton Post 346 on Wabash Avenue, member Stacie Wagle offered choice words for what local officials can do with their ordinance.

“I just think there should be special consideration for private clubs, especially the veterans,” the 68-year-old said, adding he feels proponents of the ordinance have “rubbed it in our faces” with their celebrations, relegating veterans who smoke to the status of “second-class citizens.”

A smoker since the age of 13, Wagle said he stood outside the club earlier that day, smoking his cigarette in the 100-degree heat, none too happy at all.

A few blocks to the north, several smokers stood outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 972 as a birthday party was hosted inside.

Most declined to comment for publication, but Jennifer Albright said the way smokers are being treated rubs her the wrong way, in the same manner as other recent political decisions.

“I have a son in the Army National Guard and I was taking him to drill this morning,” she said, explaining the shared conversation about citizens losing more and more of their rights to government control.

Meanwhile, other smokers dismissed those concerns.

Inside Club Soda on South Fourth Street, members were of mixed opinion on the topic that afternoon.

Program director George Fields said he’d just hosted a membership meeting and the topic was raised again, as it has been throughout the ongoing debates stemming from the city, county and state regulations.

“There are going to be some disgruntled members initially,” he said, noting he just quit smoking himself last August.

Club Soda hosts substance abuse counseling sessions and meetings for groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Designed to resemble a bar, complete with pool table and big screen television, the building strictly prohibits alcohol, drugs and now, cigarettes.

Brooke Dunning, a smoker, said she supports the county’s ban and in the long-run, more people will come to Club Soda because of it. While other members argued that recovering addicts won’t participate in meetings without their cigarettes, Dunning said others have avoided the building because of the smoke.

“I don’t think the ban will (keep people from coming), I think their attitude about it will,” she said, adding she now feels more comfortable bringing her children to social events there.

Fields said members’ heavy smoking in years past did cause some issues, and his own son would become congested while attending events. Despite air blowers throughout the facility, the impact of the smoke was obvious from walls to ceiling, he said.

“Even for people who smoke, the smoke was so thick they wouldn’t come in here,” he said.

Fields now uses a vapor device, which resembles a cigarette and delivers nicotine while generating steam. That’s been very successful in helping him quit, he said. Smokeless tobacco, chew and snuff, are likewise uncovered by the ordinance.

“I think there are a lot of people who do both anyway,” Fields said.

In the short term, Club Soda plans to build a covered deck outside for its members who smoke, and Dunning plans to quit.

“For my kids,” she said.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

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