South Bend Common Council delays plan to expand smoking ban


A proposal to expand South Bend's smoking ban has been tabled.

The South Bend Common Council late Monday night delayed for 60 days a proposed ban on smoking in all local bars and clubs.

Council members say they plan to discuss a proposed ban with other councils in Mishawaka and St. Joseph County. Opponents of the South Bend measure, many of them tavern owners, worry their customers will just leave city boundaries to smoke indoors in a community where it's allowed.

The council considered a bill like this nearly three years ago.

It never made it to a vote.We know at least 4 of the 9 members have come out in support of an expanded smoking ban, but several of those opposed worry about the economic impact it would have if the ban isn't countywide.Last year, members of American Legion Post 357 located on Sample Street, near Mayflower Road, in South Bend paid $2,30023-hundred dollars to remodel a wall and put in a new door to separate their smoke-free hall, from their bar area where smoking is allowed."It's not fair,"said Don Ruszkowski, is the Financial Officer with the Legion.He says 80% of his more than one-thousand members are smokers.He's upset the council is considering expanding the ban."These are veterans. They fought for this country and now you're going to tell them you can't smoke in your own private club. I don't agree with that," said Ruszkowski.City Councilman At-large Gavin Ferlic, who supports the measure, says he's concerned with making sure people have a safe place to work."We're hoping that this protects workers, creates a safe environment for workers. And we're hoping that just like in all the other communities where this is found, we're hoping that this has a positive impact on bar revenues," explained Ferlic.But Ruszkowski believes a smoking ban concentrated on South Bend only, and not countywide, will kill his business.He says restricting smoking would send his members to another post, which happens directly across the street, located in St. Joseph County."We believe we'll end up closing our doors because of it," Ruszkowski worries.Council President Oliver Davis is interested in hearing the proposal, but believes the county should have consistent regulations in this area.Councilman Derek Dieter was not at Monday night's meeting because he is on vacation.In a phone interview with WSBT,, he said he would like a comprehensive local study done on what the impact of a ban could mean for the local economy.

Smoke Free St. Joe is very vocal about expanding the smoking ban. Here's part of a statement the group sent out this morning: It says the organization is disappointed in the council's decision, because workers will have to wait yet again to work in a smoke-free environment. But It adds it looks forward with working with the council to pass the ordinance.