Mayors of some Indiana cities with partial smoking bans say they’re watching the statewide debate on the topic. But, finding the political will for change could be just as difficult in the cities as at the Statehouse.
More than two dozen cities and towns across the state have some form of smoking ban in place. Some, like Greencastle and Fort Wayne, have comprehensive bans. Others, like Kokomo and Columbus, have rules similar to the one which passed the Indiana House Monday, with exemptions for bars and pubs. Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight has been following Rep. Charlie Brown’s (D.-Gary) bill as it moves through the Statehouse and said it may fall to cities to apply the pressure necessary to clean up the air.
“If for some reason it fails or it passes but has numerous exemptions, I think you’ll see cities – whether it’ll be Kokomo or not – but cities like Kokomo probably rethink and re-look at that issue and see if there’s not ways to toughen it up,” Goodnight said.
But Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong said the fight to enact his city’s partial ban was rough enough and he won’t spend his last year in office trying to strengthen it. Still, Armstrong said he believes in patience and incremental change at the state level.
“I think the future for our state and our communities is a comprehensive smoking ban,” Armstrong said. “It took a long time to get to this point, it’s probably going to take a long time to get to the comprehensive smoking ban.”
Smoking ban bills have twice before passed the Indiana House, only to be quashed in the Senate each time.