- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - A proposal to ban smoking inside bars in South Bend has been tabled by the City Council for 60 days after opponents argued it would be unfair to those businesses.

About 200 people packed the council chambers Monday night for more than two hours of debate over the proposed ban.

Tavern owner Gary Weese said the city ban would cost him business because customers could easily go to bars outside the city limits or in the neighboring city of Mishawaka, where smoking would still be allowed.

“Our customers, customers that we depend on, could very easily cross the city line as this ordinance is written, so they could go to a smoking establishment there,” he said.

A statewide smoking ban that went into effect last year prohibits smoking in restaurants and most other workplaces, but exempts bars, private clubs and casinos.

Councilman Gavin Ferlic, a sponsor of the South Bend proposal, argued the tougher smoking ban is aimed at making the 100,000-person city a healthier place to work.

“We feel South Bend has the ability to take the lead in this situation, and hopefully the county and Mishawaka will follow,” Ferlic said.

Indianapolis and Fort Wayne are among many cities around Indiana that go further than state law to prohibit smoking inside bars. The Indiana Supreme Court in February ruled an Evansville ordinance improperly exempted the city’s Ohio River casino from a smoking ban for taverns and private clubs.

The South Bend council is expected to take up the proposed ban again July 14.

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