Photo: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr)
The Kokomo Common Council is considering whether to implement a citywide smoking ban.
In Kokomo only taverns, bars, tobacco outlets and fraternal organizations are exempt from the city’s current smoking ban. A proposed ordinance would prohibit smoking in all public places, including those exempt.
“Breathe Easy”, a group formed by county residents reached out to the city council to change the ordinance. Their goal is to protect residents from secondhand smoke.
City Councilman-at-Large Robert Hayes says he wants to create a smoking policy that is fair.
“We hope to have a level playing field so no one group has an advantage over another in regard to smoking but I think, in my opinion and I repeat, in my opinion, the majority of the residents in the city of Kokomo are non-smokers and they are going to embrace what we are trying to do,” he says.
Howard County plans to join Kokomo in drafting the ordinance.
Elbow Room bar owner Jeannie Welcher says she’s aware of the smoking risks, but an ordinance like this would hurt her business.
“You know we’re a bar. You have to be over 21 to come in anyways so we know we feel like it’s your choice you know and it should be our choice – the business that we bought as a smoking bar,” she says. “I would say probably 65 percent to 70 percent of our customer smoke.”
Members of the city council will meet Monday to start discussing a timeline – that meeting will not be open for public comment.