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Indianapolis Bars, Restaurants, and Hotel Rooms Go Smoke-Free on June 1, 2012

City smoking ban passed on the heels of Indiana’s first statewide ban

Several days ago, I blogged about the statewide smoking ban that will impact many Indiana employers starting on July 1, 2012. The statewide ban, which I believe is a big step toward better health and cleaner air for all Hoosiers and visitors to our great state, prohibits smoking in most places of employment, including restaurants that serve or employ individuals under the age of 21.

However, bars and many other establishments are exempt from the statewide ban. Similarly, the Indianapolis smoking ordinance enacted in 2005 exempts certain family-owned and operated businesses, designated hotel and motel rooms, bowling alleys, and many bars and taverns. So, while the statewide ban is good, 70 percent of my Indianapolis neighbors and I have been hoping for better… And on April 19, 2012, we got it. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard one-up’ed Governor Daniels and signed into law a city ban that is stronger than the existing city ordinance and more comprehensive than the statewide version. Most notably, it prohibits smoking in most bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and hotel rooms, as covered by The Indy Channel and Smoke Free Indy. The law will go into effect on June 1, and the changes to the 2005 ordinance can be found here and here.

Just a few exceptions A previous version of the ordinance was vetoed by Mayor Ballard in February because of how it handled private clubs. The revised, signed version excludes existing cigar and hookah bars and private clubs (including fraternal organizations, veterans’ halls and certain nonprofit organizations).

Employers take note Just like the “old” ordinance, the 2012 version applies to enclosed areas within places of employment and requires employers to communicate the prohibition to existing and prospective employees upon application for employment. Employers are not permitted to retaliate against employees, applicants or customers who report or attempt to exercise their rights under the ordinance.

Enforcement and penalties The ban is enforced by the deputy director of the department of code enforcement, certain fire department personnel, IMPD officers (this is a new provision that makes the ban more enforceable), and public health division personnel. The penalty for violation of the city-wide smoking ban, for both individuals and employers alike, is a $100 fine for the first violation. All subsequent violations in the same calendar year are subject to additional fines. Property owners and employers who violate the ordinance may also see their permits and licenses for the premises revoked.

Trend for major cities Indianapolis joins other Indiana cities, including Bloomington, Fort Wayne and Evansville, in going smoke-free. Major cities like Chicago, New York City, Boston, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., Kansas City, Louisville, Dallas and many, many others already have some version of a smoke-free ordinance in place.

Questions? If you have questions about how the Indiana statewide smoking ban or the Indianapolis ordinance affects you as a business owner and employer, please contact the Labor and Employment Practice Group at Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP.

To learn more about Attorney and her practice, visit her profile.

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