ELKHART – Elkhart's smoking ban will stand after a veto by Mayor Tim Neese of an unexpected repeal by city council last week.
Neese announced Tuesday he will reverse council's Jan. 22 vote to repeal the Clean Air Ordinance. City council voted 5-4 to repeal the 2008 ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and public places in its entirety after Lerner Theatre Manager David Smith sought only an amendment to allow some acts to smoke onstage.
The veto can be overcome with six votes by city council.
Neese said he decided to veto the repeal after the amount of feedback his office received. The mayor's office shared letters from the American Lung Association, Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Elkhart County Health Department, Elkhart General Hospital and the Minority Health Coalition of Elkhart County all urging Neese to veto the repeal.
"There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke," states the letter from the Indianapolis office of the American Lung Association. "Understanding the dangers of secondhand smoke, the City of Elkhart took decisive action in 2008 when it was among the first municipalities in Indiana to enact a strong smoke-free air law... Among the most important responsibilities of elected officials is protecting the health and wellbeing of the community. Until the Indiana legislature addresses the loopholes in the current statewide smoke-free air law, mayors and city councils are Hoosiers’ best hope for extending smoke-free protections to the public."