TERRE HAUTE —
Finding a place to light up a smoke in Vigo County is about to become much tougher.
The Vigo County Commissioners, by a 3-0 vote, on Tuesday morning amended the county’s clean indoor-air ordinance to prohibit smoking in virtually all indoor public places.
The only exceptions spelled out in the amendment are tobacco shops and private residences not being used as daycare or health care facilities.
The new rules will take effect Sunday.
“I think it was the right thing,” said Commissioner Mike Ciolli a few minutes after the vote.
Some of the most vocal opponents of changing the county’s ordinance were members of private clubs, such as American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.
“There go my tips,” said Jeanna, a bartender at a local American Legion Post who did not want to give her last name. “We’ve already had people say Saturday will be their last day here.”
Several other members of American Legion posts interviewed Tuesday also disagreed with what the commissioners did, but said they will continue to visit their clubs.
“It’s just going to be an inconvenience,” said Marlin Jorgensen, who was sitting in the Riley American Legion Tuesday afternoon. “But it ought to be up to the club members,” he added.
Vigo County will join about half of the U.S. states that have passed comprehensive smoking bans in the past 10 years. Indiana’s new smoke-free law is less strict than the county’s. It continues to allow smoking in bars, casinos and private clubs. It is legal for local governments to adopt regulations more strict than the state’s, but not less strict.
“This is a huge day,” said Alia Hazel, tobacco prevention and cessation program director for Vigo County, speaking shortly after the commissioner’s meeting. “Vigo County should be very excited and very proud that they have leadership in this community that really believes in the public health.”
The county’s new ordinance is even tougher than the one passed last year by the Terre Haute City Council, which banned smoking in virtually all indoor public places starting July 1. The city’s ordinance allowed smoking to continue in a small number of hotel or motel rooms in the city. The county ordinance, which supersedes the city’s, makes no allowance for hotels or motels.
Veterans groups were covered by the city’s new ordinance. However, any clubs located outside the city limits, such as the Riley Legion, were exempted.
“This is a veterans’ organization,” said Gloria Phillips, who was enjoying a cigarette inside the Riley Legion post Tuesday afternoon. “They fought for our country, for our freedom. … People that don’t like smoking shouldn’t come in here.”
“Free choice,” echoed Jim Sullivan, a Korean War veteran and nonsmoker at the Krietenstein American Legion post Tuesday. “We figured it was our organization. We ought to be able to vote for it. That’s the American way.”
But that argument, made several times at a public meeting on June 19, didn’t fly with the county commissioners. Commissioner Judy Anderson said some veterans cannot go inside their clubs because of the smoke.
“We have a lot of veterans who haven’t been able to go in those. They are as deserving as anyone else,” Anderson said.
Commissioner Paul Mason, a veteran, said he sympathized with the veterans arguments, but still feels the commissioners did the right thing in passing the amendment 3-0.
“It’s a little hard as far as being a veteran and some of the veterans out there talking about what their concerns were,” he said. “But, I think that when we raised our hands to be selected to go in the service, we raised our hands for all of the people and not just a select group of people. So I think we did the right choice.”
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or email@example.com.
Vigo County’s strict ban begins Sunday
TERRE HAUTE —
Finding a place to light up a smoke in Vigo County is about to become much tougher.
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