If anti-smoking advocates were hoping to reduce the number of smoking establishments in Indianapolis before the Super Bowl, they will have to wait until the next one comes to Indianapolis, whenever that is.
A proposal that would have banned smoking in most businesses with a few exceptions failed to garner support tonight in the Democrats’ caucus. Prior to tonight’s City-County Council meeting Democrats took an informal poll to see if members would support the current compromise that would expand the current smoking ban to all bars and taverns in the city, with the exception of cigar and hookah bars as well as private clubs and tobacco shops.
The compromise had been reached by outgoing City-Council President Ryan Vaughn and smoking ban proponents Democrat Angela Mansfield and Republican Ben Hunter. According to my sources, Democrats were non-committal to the proposal and the consensus was to try again next year and go for a complete ban with no exceptions.
Mayor Greg Ballard reiterated his position to me earlier at a Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce event that his position was clear and that the only ban he would sign was the proposal offered up by Vaughn with its exemptions.
Democrats will take control of the Council next year with a 16-vote majority, however 20 votes are needed to override any Mayoral veto. Vaughn’s proposal had about 10 votes at best, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
Vaughn’s proposal is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday in the Rules committee. Some Republicans say they could back a smoking ban if it grandfathered in existing bars or exempted bars outside the mile-square of downtown. However proponents say they want to try and shoot for a total ban next year.