Posts Tagged ‘smokefree workplaces’

Bar Owner Wants Smoke-Free Law

In State News on December 17, 2009 at 9:20 am

This letter addressed to Indianapolis Mayor Ballard was published on

Dear Mayor Ballard,

My name is Michael Quarto. I’m a Cathedral graduate and the proud owner of The Mousetrap. As I’m sure you know, we are one of Indianapolis’ older establishments, having opened in 1957. I bought the place in 2002 and have revamped it quite a bit. I hope you’ll stop by for a bowl of our famous Hot Stew sometime.

The reason for my letter is our absolute need for a smoking ban. If you were in The Mousetrap on a weekend night, you might think I was crazy to want this, as 70-80% of our customers smoke at some point through the night. Through conversations with some of our regular customers, I’ve been told “I’ll never come in here if we can’t smoke” and “we’ll all go to private clubs or each others’ houses”. They are all bluffing.

The fact of the matter is a few of them will stay away for a week or two, even a month. They will come back! Not only will they come back, but also dozens of new customers will join them. For every customer who swears he’ll boycott the bars there are 3 who just will not enter a bar strictly because of the smoke. Most bar owners would prefer to be smoke free right now, but with a very few exceptions, it would be a financial disaster to be the lone non-smoking place. It needs to be all of us. I have read the studies from many of the other cities that have implemented a ban, and they all show relative growth after a minor initial lull, if any lull at all. I’m sure Indianapolis would follow suit.

I, like many others, do have reservations about some of the restrictions though. We have to give reasonable consideration to smokers, because it is still legal and they do have the right to smoke. I believe there are many ways to make these concessions, but we must remove the “25 foot” rule. I cannot imagine the problems that it could cause Downtown or in Broad Ripple, as well as many of our other public venues and facilities. The Convention Center also comes to mind when thinking about a ban.

Losing out on a major convention because a few CEO’s want a place to smoke a good cigar would be a big problem. Most places have more than one entrance. I see no reason why we couldn’t designate “smoke-free entrances”. Also, taking a patron 25 feet from a business provides little options in comfort. Not many places can provide seating, heat and ashtrays that far from their establishment. We need to allow for a reasonably comfortable and convenient area for smokers.

Another issue that obviously concerns business owners on the border of our city is the potential loss of business to a place right down the street, but outside the county line. We must put pressure on these counties to join Marion County’s effort to better serve its constituents. In many other senses, our surrounding counties are very much a part of the Indianapolis community, and they should be required, or at least persuaded to be a part of this necessary endeavor.

This is the right thing to do for our workers, our citizens and the future of our city. Indianapolis has been left behind in the past. We have overcome it to become a major city with ambitious goals and in order to keep it that way we must progress with the rest of the country. A few short years ago I joined many others in denouncing a smoking ban. I was wrong, and if you look around, I’m not alone. Many of us have come to our senses. Our city needs this immediately, and the vast majority of your constituents, including “small business owners” would agree.

Thank you very much for your time and concern.


Michael Quarto, owner Mousetrap Music, Sports Pub and Game Room


Pike Co. TPC Honors Amber Manor Care Center

In Local News on November 17, 2009 at 9:12 am

PETERSBURG, Ind. – The Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition has recognized Amber Manor Care Center with the Tobacco-Free Business Award. ITPC Project Coordinator Sally Petty presented a certificate to the facility Monday in honor of their smoke-free grounds policy.

Recognizing the importance of the smoke-free movement, Amber Manor’s campus leadership team has decided to endorse a smoke-free environment. They considered the numerous health risks associated with smoking. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 430,700 American lives each year, and an estimated 50,000 deaths each year are attributable to secondhand smoke breathed by nonsmokers. Smoking adversely affects the health and well-being of all Amber Manor employees, as well as their family members.

Based on feedback from their customers and in an effort to provide a healthier, cleaner home for their residents, Amber Manor will prohibit smoking on campus grounds effective Jan. 1, 2010.

This change will affect employees, campus visitors, and new residents. Current residents who already smoke and who currently reside in their campuses will not be affected by this change. They will be allowed to continue to smoke in designated areas on the campus grounds.

“Economic costs of smoking are estimated to be about $3,391 per smoker per year. Increased medical costs, higher insurance rates, added maintenance expenses, lower productivity, and higher rates of absenteeism from smoking and second-hand smoke cost American businesses between $97 and $125 billion every year,” said Petty. “We are proud of the steps Amber Manor Care Center has taken to protect the health of their employees, residents, and visitors. They set an excellent example for all businesses and healthcare facilities in Pike and surrounding counties.”

For help implementing a tobacco-free policy at your business, contact Petty at 812-698-0232. For free help to quit smoking, call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Should Private Clubs Allow Smoking?

In State News on November 9, 2009 at 10:44 am

Does your private club need a license to kill?

Indianapolis Business Journal Vol. 30, No. 36 November 9, 2009

By Bruce Hetrick

Some of the loudest complaints about smokefree-workplace laws involve private clubs, especially those affiliated with military veterans.

“We went to war and fought for our freedom,” the argument goes, “so government shouldn’t take away that freedom by telling us we can’t smoke.”

This manifested itself last week when Marine Corps veteran and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard told WRTV News, “I’m never going to tell an Iwo Jima vet that he can’t smoke in the VFW. You can take that for what it’s worth.”

If news accounts are correct, it apparently was worth a threatened veto of a comprehensive smokefree-workplace ordinance for our city. Subsequently, the City-County Council tabled the proposal. But is it freedom-enhancing to defend a veteran’s “right” to commit slow-motion suicide and homicide?

In his 2006 acceptance speech, then-VFW Commander-in-Chief Gary Kurpius argued that VFW posts need to make significant changes–including going smokefree–to remain relevant to current and future generations of veterans.

“Membership drives everything we do, but we won’t get a new generation–or even the older generation–to join us if we don’t recognize and adapt to the changing world,” Kurpius said. “There has to be something more attractive about the VFW than just the bar.”

He called on member posts to create family-friendly services, such as childcare facilities and health clubs.

“But I guarantee you,” Kurpius said, “that no one will want to join a VFW health club, or bring their children to a VFW daycare center … as long as smoking is still permitted indoors. We are a democratic organization that is letting 20 percent of the population tell us that the post will fail if people can’t smoke inside. That’s bunk. I know many VFW members and spouses who will not attend post meetings or events because of the smoke. I have read many articles about the VFW being the last building in town where indoor smoking is still permitted–and some members quoted in the newspaper are celebrating as if they just won a great battle against government and social interference. Comrades, that is not a victory; it is a sad commentary that unfortunately paints all of us with the same brush.”

I’m not a military man (they didn’t want me), but I’m the son of one and the brother of two others. So I know the VFW’s mission is to “honor the dead by helping the living.” Well, you don’t honor anyone by helping veterans kill themselves and everyone around them with tobacco smoke.

I also know the Marine Corps motto is Semper Fidelis or “always faithful”–to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to the country, no matter what. The Marine Corps Web site also says “Respect for others is essential” and “Marines are expected to act responsibly in a manner befitting the title they’ve earned.” Even if you’re faithful to your fellow Marine’s nicotine addiction, what’s respectful or responsible about poisoning the air at the VFW post, American Legion hall (or local tavern) for the bartenders, servers, janitors, caterers, delivery people, sales reps and others who work there–or the guests who visit? Is that really something the few and the proud would do?

If that weren’t cause enough, perhaps our veterans should set a healthy example for today’s troops. A report released in June by the Institute of Medicine–an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision-makers and the public–concluded that the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and Congress “should take stronger steps toward eliminating tobacco use.”

“Because tobacco use impairs military readiness, harms the health of soldiers and veterans, and imposes a substantial financial burden on the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, these agencies should implement a comprehensive strategy to achieve the Defense Department’s stated goal of a tobacco-free military,” said the report.

Toward the same tobacco-free end, the military last month announced that it would ban smoking from Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital at the Marine Corps Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California–and at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., and at the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, Calif.

Martha Hunt, Bush Naval Hospital’s health promotions and awareness coordinator, said, “Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States … It is also one of the leading detractors from combat readiness, impacting the healing of injuries, heat stroke, night blindness, [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder], and others.”

All of which begs a question for our elected officials contemplating smokefree workplace laws: Did our troops really fight and die for our country so our veterans could sicken and kill themselves and innocent bystanders here at home? If so, it’s a sad new definition of “friendly fire.”

Bruce is chairman and CEO of Hetrick, an Indianapolis-based integrated marketing communications firm. His column appears twice a month, but you can join the conversation anytime at

Indy Smoking Ban Fails

In State News on November 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm

From the Indianapolis Star:

Ban goes down in flames of secrecy

When the proposed ban on smoking in Indianapolis is revived — and it almost certainly will be in time — let’s hope the air will be clear of some of the lamer arguments, as well as the behind-closed-doors politics, that helped block the initiative this week.

Let’s first dispense with the silliest argument against the ban. Brad Klopfenstein, former executive director of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, praised the council — and we’re not making this up — for “representing the rights of adults to make adult decisions.”

Does anyone truly believe that anyone has a right to willfully endanger another person’s health? Is it an adult decision to place someone’s life at risk in order to indulge in a deadly habit?

Spare us the muddled cries of “liberty.” Smokers have no more right to spew toxic substances that foul the lungs of all those around them than chemical companies have a right to pump their waste products into White River.

Then there’s the spectacle of Mayor Greg Ballard, the most disappointing figure in this entire debate.

Opponents of the ban may be misguided, but at least they had the courage to take a public stand on a contentious issue. Ballard, as a candidate for office, promised that he “would support any legislation to limit the impact of secondhand smoke.” He also promised to champion transparency in government. He struck out — and badly — on both counts this week.

Ballard not only opposed the ban but also waited until two hours before the City-County Council’s vote to deliver a veto threat to the Republican caucus in a closed-door meeting.

Ballard has refused to take a public stand on the matter. The only reason residents now know where the city’s chief executive comes down on an important policy issue was due to the investigative work of Star political columnist Matt Tully, who the next day learned of the secretive meeting involving the mayor and GOP council members.

Will the issue return to the forefront? “It’s inevitable that it’s going to pass,” said Republican council member Ben Hunter, one of four cosponsors of the ordinance. “Indianapolis will move forward on the issue.

When it does, good sense and political courage should no longer be lost in the haze.

Arguments against ban go up in smoke

In State News on October 26, 2009 at 8:20 am

This editorial was published in the Indianapolis Star recently.

It’s time for the City-County Council to hammer home the coffin nails for some long-dead arguments that keep being propped up against the movement to clear the air in public places.

No, bars and restaurants don’t sign their death warrant when they go smoke free.

No, smoking wherever you want is not a constitutional right; and when it harms other people, as secondhand smoke has been proven to do, it is a wrong.

No, property rights are not absolute for public accommodations; hence, we have fire codes and food-handling restrictions.

The council can enact a logical extension of those health and safety measures on Monday when it votes on a proposal to remove virtually all exceptions from the current anti-smoking ordinance for workplaces. Bars, bowling alleys and private clubs would cease to be exempt.

The case for going smoke free is airtight based on the facts. That does not mean there won’t be heated debate, as there was in a public hearing Oct. 14 that ended with a 4-2 committee vote in favor of the ban. It would be a shame if heat were to overcome light.

“Save Indianapolis Bars,” some of the opposition proclaimed on clothing tags. Yet the experience in this city, and in the 11 Indiana communities and 26 states that have outlawed smoking comprehensively, contradicts the notion that the policy hurts business. Quite the contrary, many bars and eateries report.

Only a certain special interest stands to lose under the proposed law. Sadly, it already has compromised one council member, Dane Mahern, an opponent whose father is a tobacco lobbyist. Mahern says he’ll abstain from voting.

If the business objection doesn’t hold up, how about liberty? Even if we apply this bedrock American principle to cigarette consumption, liberty stops where another person’s well-being begins. Secondhand smoke is no mere annoyance. As medical experts have testified, it causes cancer in nonsmokers and costs Hoosiers hundreds of millions of dollars annually — $47.5 million in Indianapolis alone, according to an Indiana University study released Wednesday. No one is more vulnerable, at least among adults, than an employee who spends eight hours a day wreathed in toxic fumes.

Economics and personal rights, far from being abridged by a smoke-free environment, have been enhanced in cities bold enough to go all out for public health. A city that takes pride in being a hub of the medical and life-sciences industries should be a leader in tobacco cessation. That moment may have passed; but the trend Indianapolis can follow has become clear as cigarette-free air.

As doctors tell smokers, it’s never too late to quit.

Star Supports Smoke-Free Indy Movement

In State News on October 5, 2009 at 7:27 am

The Indianapolis Star published this editorial this weekend supporting policy change that would ban smoking in all businesses in Indianapolis, including bars and private clubs. A change for the better in Indianapolis would support changes in other cities in town throughout the state that could result in healthier workplaces for thousands of people and reduce healthcare costs as well.

Gaming Industry Stacks Deck Against Smokefree Workplaces

In State News on August 24, 2009 at 9:52 am

A study commissioned by the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation reveals gaming interests reported more than $3.6 million in lobbying expenditures in a two-year period ending April 30, 2009, according to Indiana public records. Individuals employed by lobbying organizations that represent casinos and horse tracks reported giving more than $228,000 to state political party committees and legislative caucus committees in 2008.

House Speaker Patrick Bauer’s reelection campaign took in at least $60,000 in donations in 2008 from horse racing industry supporters, employees of lobbying firms for casinos and affiliated contributors, including $39,000 in one day alone.

The facts were made public in the “ANR Foundation’s Gaming the Legislature Series: The Gaming Industry Stacks the Deck Against Smokefree Workplaces in Indiana.” Cynthia Hallett, executive director of the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, said the report shows how casinos and allied gaming interests spend enormous amounts of money to buy influence to try to tilt the legislative process in their favor.

“The millions of dollars spent by the gaming industry in Indiana to influence legislation have had a toxic payout for Indiana’s casino workers and the public. When casinos use this influence to defeat a common sense comprehensive smokefree workplace law, the entire state suffers the consequences,” said Hallett. “I hope legislators are able to look past this vast amount of special interest money to act in the best interest of the people of Indiana.”

Karena Walter, a longtime Indiana casino worker, said she hopes legislators ultimately will do the right thing and protect all Hoosier workers from disease and death caused by secondhand smoke.

“I just want to do my job without the health risk that comes from secondhand smoke. I love the work I do and I love my co-workers, but we shouldn’t have to make a choice between our jobs and our health,” said Walter.

The Indiana Gaming Study Commission meets today at 10am in room 431 to discuss, among other issues, “nonsmoking accommodations at riverboat casinos and racinos.”

More From The Elkhart Truth About Smoking Ban

In State News on August 6, 2009 at 10:18 am

Elkhart City Council snuffs out smoking at bars

ELKHART — A line of more than 40 residents — a mix of bar owners and employees, health officials, anti-smoking proponents and regular citizens — came before the City Council on Monday night.

One side warned of impending job losses and shuttered businesses. The other pleaded for the council to protect the health of residents and workers.

In the end, the council voted down, 5-4, an amendment to a clean air ordinance that would allow smoking at Elkhart bars with valid liquor licenses that only serve customers 21 and older.

The council originally passed a citywide smoking ban in April 2008, after a compromise allowed a one-year exemption for bars that only served customers 21 and older. When that grace period ended May 16, bar owners said business dropped 30 percent or more almost immediately.

Council Vice President Dave Osborne surveyed 19 of the bars that received exemptions, and said 32 employees have been lost since May. Of the 111 employees remaining at the 19 bars, Osborne said 89 of them are smokers and 108 are against the smoking ban.

The council is working too hard to protect just a few more people, he said, and doing so at the expense of residents’ jobs and livelihoods.

“There’s a point of diminishing returns,” Osborne, D-1st, said. “We’ve reached that curve. We can’t get the whole pie, but we’re going to try for .004 more percent. Where’s the fairness?”

Some residents gave emotional testimony before the council, including Pam Weber, a 49-year-old single mom. Always a waitress, Weber said she’s looked for work elsewhere but can’t get hired. If the ban continues, she said she’ll be out of a job.

“The decision you make will not affect you,” she said. “But it will affect the rest of us in this line of work.”

Resident Dwight Fish, however, said he sees the smoking ban debate as a simple quality-of-life issue.

“We’re revisiting something we should not have been revisited,” he said. “We should have taken this ordinance and put it in concrete a year ago.”

Before the debate even began, Mayor Dick Moore told the council he planned to veto the ordinance if it passed. He said he believes a majority of the city supports the ban and the poor economy is the reason bar business has dropped.

“There is no correlation between a smoking ban in a public place and a downturn in business,” he said. “Other downturns are short-lived. I believe this one will be, too.”

Councilman David Henke, R-3rd, said the council has been hypocritical for granting tax phase-ins to bring companies to the area while ignoring employment losses at local bars.

“We are picking and choosing what jobs are acceptable to our city and what jobs are not,” Henke said. “But if you’re unemployed, any job is acceptable when it comes to feeding your families.”

Smoke-free Air Policies

In Local News, State News on July 24, 2009 at 8:17 am


This is supported by the data from the survey our coalition took at the Daviess County Fair last month showing more than 90% of respondants support some sort of smoke-free air policy.

Indy’s Premier Jazz Club Goes Smoke-Free

In State News on June 30, 2009 at 9:13 am

Indy’s Premier Jazz Club, The Jazz Kitchen will now be a smoke-free venue. David Allee, owner of the club, made the announcement that beginning June 24, The Jazz Kitchen would be totally smoke-free. The decision was made not only to protect the workers, but to provide a safe environment for their patrons. This is seen as a victory for all the organizations and volunteers that continue to work hard for smoke-free, safe environments for all Hoosiers.

The Jazz Kitchen will provide the best in music entertainment in an environment that will enhance the audience’s experience. This change comes at a great time for The Jazz Kitchen. Chef Victor Ruiz will roll out new summer menu items to compliment their traditional favorites. They have also re-vamped the bar menu to include a few new unique cocktails and a new wine list.

“I decided to make The Jazz Kitchen a safe, smoke-free venue because I want to attract the highest quality bartenders, wait staff , musicians, and DJs to work here. No employee should have to choose between their job and their health. During these economic times it makes sense to offer customers the finest product possible,” says David Allee.

There are two organizations in Indianapolis that have focused exclusively on working toward workplace protection for bartenders, wait staff , musicians, and DJs. Take Note is a grassroots network of volunteers from the music, entertainment and nightclub industry who work together to draw attention to the problem of smoky entertainment venues. Smoke Free Indy represents a group of health and community organizations who advocate for smoke-free policies for all workers in Marion County.

“We applaud The Jazz Kitchen for taking this step in providing a safe atmosphere for their employees, artists and patrons. The decision to make The Jazz Kitchen smoke-free should send a strong message that Indianapolis is ready for a smoke-free future like other first class cities across the U.S.,” said Tim Filler, a Smoke Free Indy volunteer.