Stella’s Lounge opened 21 years ago just a couple miles south from downtown Kokomo. It’s also the legal age to enter a smoking establishment. The 2006 ordinance only bans smoking in any place where minors may enter.
But that might change. Monday night, the city’s common council voted 5 to 4 in favor of an all-inclusive smoking ban.
Bartender Holly Long says she’s a single mother and won’t be able to make ends meet if the ban passes.
“You have your choice if you want to walk into the bar or not you know it’s smoking when you walk in there. If you don’t want to, then don’t come in,” Long says. “I’m not going to make the money I’m used to making. We may even have to close down.”
Her boss and lounge owner Stella Kling says they’re more than just a place to grab a drink, they partner with other bars in the area to raise money for charity.
“They’re trying to take our rights away, it’s not against the law, so what are we doing wrong? We’re keeping it away from the children; we’re not in your household… so I don’t know.”
There’s a final vote scheduled for September 8th. Mayor Greg Goodnight says it will likely come with amendments.
“I understand the personal freedoms and the personal rights. I always use alcohol as a prime example that even though it’s a legal substance, I can purchase alcohol, I just can’t take it with me wherever I want and go places and drink alcohol,” Goodnight says.
He says it will come down to – does the ban help Kokomo or hurt it.