After coming close to passing a smoking ban in Sept. 2014, Kokomo, Ind. finally did the deed on Monday, as both the Kokomo Common Council and Howard County Board of Commissioners passed ordinances which effectively snuff out smoking in bars, taverns and private clubs.
Howard County was the first to approve the ordinance, which bans smoking in a number of places including restaurants, bars, gaming facilities, private clubs and all enclosed areas of private employment. Additionally, smoking is prohibited within a “reasonable distance” of doors, windows and ventilation systems of places where smoking is prohibited, which the ordinance defines as a minimum of eight feet.
It’s not just inside businesses where smoking is being banned, as outdoor seating areas of bars and restaurants that don’t restrict access to people over 18-years-old also fall under the ban, as well as at public transportation waiting areas, and in common areas of apartment buildings and other multi-unit residences.
The county’s ban does include an exemption for retail tobacco stores, however, meaning cigar smokers could still light up in dedicated stores.
The three-member board approved the ban unanimously.
Once the county had approved its ban, the Kokomo Common Council approved a resolution at its meeting by a 5-4 margin that said the city would support any legislation that is enacted by the country, state or county that is stricter than the city’s existing ordinance. Kokomo wasn’t included in the effective areas of the county’s ordinance, so this brings the two entities into alignment when it comes to the ban.
Violators of the ban would get a written warning for a first offense, but would then face a fine of up to $200 for a second offense within a calendar year. That penalty continues to escalate for subsequent offenses, up to $1,500 for a fifth violation.
The ban goes into effect on April 1 for the majority of affected areas, though bars and private clubs won’t have to pull the ashtrays until July 1. The portions of the ban that affect smoking outdoors will also go into effect on July 1.
Howard County is home to nearly 83,000 residents, while Kokomo, its county seat, is home to approximately 57,000 residents. The city is located just over 50 miles north of Indianapolis.