A proposal brought to the Gary Common Council on Monday night seeking to ban smoking in all public places barely got off the ground, as Councilwoman LaVetta Sparks-Wade quickly removed her name from the proposal and no other council member got behind it as a primary sponsor. With no primary sponsor, the proposal is effectively dead, though could be revisited at a later date.
The ordinance sought to expand the Smoke-Free Indiana act to all public places in Gary; currently the state’s law exempts casinos, bars, taverns, tobacco retail shops, cigar bars, hookah bars, licensed horse track facilities, and membership clubs such as fraternal and veteran’s organizations, though they have to meet additional requirements. Gary’s proposed ban would have eliminated those exemptions within city limits.
One of the main casualties of the ban would have been a local casino, which vehemently opposed it, citing a negative impact to their revenue and the resulting loss of jobs. As part of that, the city would lose tax revenue from the casinos, a number that was reported as being upwards of $3 million annually.
Gary is located approximately 25 miles southeast of Chicago, and is home to approximately 76,500 residents.