A smoking ban in Kokomo, Ind. that would force bars to pack up their ashtrays caused a heated but civil debate at Monday night’s Kokomo Common Council meeting that resulted in the ordinance being passed a narrow 5-4 margin.
Prior to the vote, several amendments were discussed by the council that would ban smoking in bars and taverns as well as private and social clubs, and would ban the use of electronic cigarettes in all public establishments. The ordinance as it was presented at the meeting removes Section 133.05 of the city’s municipal code, which provided exemptions for those establishments as well as for retail tobacco stores.
The Kokomo Tribune reported that public discussion on the matter lasted for more than an hour, with more than 20 people providing comment on the matter prior to the vote. Comments ranged from in favor of the ordinance to protect public health, while opponents say it will cost businesses revenue and possibly force closure of several locally owned establishments.
The ordinance will get its required second reading on Sept. 8, and should it again pass that reading it will become law after 30 days.
Kokomo has a population of around 60,000 residents and is located within Howard County in central Indiana.