Marion County, Indiana, where Indianapolis is located, passed a smoking ban which takes effect March 1, but local businesses are already feeling the effects.
The smoking ban prohibits smoking in any bar or restaurant that admits people under 18. Private clubs and cigar bars are not affected by the ban.
The choice restaurant owners face in Indianapolis is whether to go smoke free, or go adult only.
“That’s the decision everybody is trying to make. That’s the tough part of it,” said Chad Ashley, general manager of Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Downtown Indianapolis. “Most likely, we will be smoke-free.”
Fernando Escamilla, general manager of the TGI Friday’s on West 38th Street, said his restaurant is still sorting out how to handle the ban. In fact, the chain’s corporate office is working on a proposal to ask city officials to allow a separate room for smokers rather than making the restaurant and bar adults-only.
“Hopefully they will give us an exception,” Escamilla said, although the ordinance now would not allow such a setup.
The controversial workplace smoking ban was approved by the City-County Council in May — ending years of debate and bringing the city in step with many other cities nationwide.
Thirty-nine percent of U.S. residents live in states or cities that restrict smoking, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, a California advocacy group. The anti-tobacco movement has helped pass more than 2,000 smoke-free laws, including 118 that ban all smoking at work and in public places — even outdoors.
Smokers who puff away in spite of the ban could face a $100 fine per violation. Enforcement will be handled primarily by health and building inspectors, but the Indianapolis Police and Marion County Sheriff’s departments also could write tickets.
Opponents of the smoking ban complain that government has overstepped its boundaries by telling business owners which customers they can serve and by declaring private establishments public places. They predict many eateries will become 18-and-older to avoid the ban.
“They have to decide whether to give up prom business or family business,” said John Livengood, president of the Restaurant and Hospitality Association of Indiana. “It’s a tough economic decision.” — Indianapolis Star
Clearly, these businesses are going to lose either way. The choice is, which business do you decide to lose?
But more than that, how can a government force private businesses to make such a choice?
Many restaurants were already smoke-free, so it’s not like non-smokers didn’t have a choice to go places where smoking isn’t allowed. Instead they want to eliminate choice for everyone else and cost local people jobs. What kind of “progress” is that?