It started with a request for an exemption for a single performance, escalated to a repeal of the smoking ban, and appears to be coming to end with a mayor’s veto.

On Jan. 22, the Elkhart, Ind. City Council heard a request for an exemption to the city’s clean air act that would have allowed comedian Ron White to smoke a cigar on stage during an upcoming performance at the Lerner Theater. Instead of simply voting on the exemption, the council decided to amend it into a repealing of the city’s smoking ban under the auspice of returning rights to private property owners who want to allow smoking in their establishments, such as bars and restaurants, according to a report by

Then on Tuesday, Mayor Tim Neese issued a statement saying that he intended to veto the repeal. The mayor said that “after further review of Indiana Code 7.1-5-12, it has been determined that neither the amendment as proposed nor the repeal approved by the Council would supersede state law prohibiting smoking in public places.” He also added that he didn’t believe that rejecting the exemption request for White’s show would impact his performance.

“The legislative process is designed to encourage a thorough and comprehensive review of policy and to allow ample opportunity for public input,” Neese wrote. “This repeal did not appear on the agenda and the public had no opportunity to speak on the matter prior to a vote.”

Elkhart is located in northern Indiana, 15 miles east of South Bend, and 110 miles east of Chicago, Ill. It is home to just over 52,000 residents.

Update (Feb. 7, 2018) — The city council will not attempt an override of the mayor’s veto, according to a report from The topic of a repeal may still come up at future council meetings.

This story was originally published on Jan. 30, 2018.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.