Truth Editorial

In State News on August 3, 2009 at 9:09 am

Originally published in the Elkhart Truth:

Council can’t retreat on smoking ban

The Elkhart City Council is expected to vote Monday night on whether to pull back on Elkhart’s smoking ban by allowing people in bars to begin lighting up again.

The only sensible vote is “no.”

As with almost any controversial issue, the council is hearing from a vocal minority of constituents who want the ordinance overturned.

It’s like the classic bell curve: About 10 percent of the people will feel passionately for the issue, and 10 percent who feel passionately against it. But 80 percent of the people will be OK with the changes that have been made.

We believe that most Elkhartans fall within the 80 percent — they’re fine with smoking not being allowed in restaurants and bars in the city. And the vocal minority on either side — the ones who speak the loudest — don’t represent their feelings.

The majority of folks also know that smoking is bad for you and second-hand smoke is bad for you and they won’t want to be around it or have their loved ones subjected to it.

There are so many variables that might be a factor in why certain bars might be struggling. Elkhart’s economy and high unemployment rate, which at one time was almost 20 percent, must play the biggest part, not whether smoking is allowed.

And look at the local bars and restaurants which seem to be doing fine since the ordinance took effect and in spite of the economy: Mad Anthony’s, 523, Lucchese’s, The Vine, Between the Buns, Cock-a-Doodle Cafe, Harrison Landing, Chubby Trout … and there are others. No one’s been run out of the business by this ordinance.

What does that say? The no-smoking ordinance may not be the primary issue.

But certainly, a few months aren’t long enough to determine the effectiveness of the ordinance. The city council would be irresponsible in taking a step back now.

Council members need to use common sense, strip the passion out of the debate and do the right thing. Vote no on the new ordinance.


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