The Indiana Supreme Court has struck down a smoking ban passed by the city of Evansville, citing that the ordinance amendment violated the Equal Privileges and Immunity Clause of the state Constitution by allowing smoking on the Tropicana Casino’s riverboat but prohibiting it bars, restaurants and private clubs.
Chief Justice Brent Dickson, who authored the majority opinion, said that ““today, we hold that this clause invalidates an Evansville ordinance expanding the city’s smoking ban to bars and restaurants but exempting its only riverboat casino.”
The five members of the court were split 3-2 in their decision, which was handed down on Tuesday.
With the change, the law reverts back to the one passed in 2006, which prohibited smoking in workplaces and other public places, but created exemptions for bars, private clubs and riverboats. Establishments must apply for an individual exemption with state excise police, and the Evansville Courier Press reported that exemptions were already being sought within hours of the decision being announced.
The ruling does not affect other cities’ smoking bans, including a recent ban passed by Indianapolis, which provided exemptions for cigar and hookah bars because it recognized the inherent differences between those establishments and bars and restaurants.