South Bend Common Council votes 5-4 against smoke free ordinance - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend Common Council votes 5-4 against smoke free ordinance

After tabling the vote on the smoke free ordinance back in May, the South Bend Common Council voted on Monday night 5-4 against the smoking ban.

This means South Bend bar owners can continue to allow smoking in their establishment. There was support for both sides of issue.

Those in support of the ban cited health concerns like second hand smoke and a cleaner workplace environment as their reasons. Geoff Zimpelman was one of the people who spoke in favor of the ban. He says many of his friends have left the city because South Bend had not addressed the smoking issue.

“They want to be able to enjoy a drink after work or see their favorite local or national band in bars and clubs where they do not have to risk their health,” Zimpelman said. “South Bend is not yet that place.”

Those who argued against the ordinance said it would hurt business and believed people should be allowed to choose if they want to attend a bar where smoking is allowed. Don Ruszkowski was on hand representing a local American Legion.

“We went smoke free for one week. We wanted to try it,” Ruszkowski said. “In that one week we lost 3,456 dollars so no one can tell me we're not going to lose business. You times that by one year; we'll be closed in 2 and a half years.”
After hearing from the public, the council voted against the ban. The five members who voted against it were Henry Davis, Jr., Valerie Schey, Oliver Davis, David Varner, and Derek Dieter. Those who voted for included Tim Scott, Fred, Ferlic, Gavin Ferlic, and Karen White.

"We were really hoping that the council would support local businesses. That was very important to us and they heard our argument and voted accordingly so we're very, very pleased," representative of Jeannie's Tavern Gary Weese said.

"We know that the council made a decision not to make South Bend healthier; a healthier place to work, live and play," Smoke Free St. Joe member Karl Nichols said.

CouncilmaGavinin Ferlic was the lead sponsor of the smoke free ordinance. He says he was disappointed by the vote but knows this isn't the end of the issue. "Optimistic that were still moving in the right direction,” Ferlic said. “Might take a couple more years but I think we'll get a clean air ordinance in South Bend eventually."

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