Jeffersonville’s proposed smoking ban passed the City Council by a 4-3 party-line vote during its final reading Monday, but Mayor Rob Waiz said he will need more information before deciding whether to sign the measure.

Monday’s vote occurred in front of a standing-room-only crowd which spilled into the City-County Building’s third-floor hallway. Many of the ordinance’s supporters wore green stickers saying, “Smoke Free Jeff Yes!”

About 30 foes of the measure rallied at the City-County Building’s southwest corner before the meeting, carrying signs with slogans such as “Boycott American Cancer Society,” “Want freedom? Take your business to Clarksville.”

The vote was identical to the one taken Nov. 7, when the ordinance passed on its second reading.

Waiz said he is generally supportive of the concept of banning smoking in public places and places of employment, but he believes the both the ordinance and the process that led to its passage on three readings could be flawed.

“I’m going to have to do a lot of research between now and signing the ordinance,” Waiz said. “This is a very serious issue.”

Waiz said he is uncomfortable with the speed with which the ordinance, which was first introduced Oct. 17, was approved, and used the Louisville Metro Council’s two-year battle with that city’s anti-smoking ordinance as an example of why he believes Jeffersonville’s process was rushed.

“The (Jeffersonville) council spent two hours, whereas Louisville spent two years on it,” Waiz said. “The council, in the past, has always studied things meticulously.”

The mayor pointed out the council has not accounted for funding enforcement of the law and was still working on key components of the measure — such as who would enforce it and when it would take effect — at a workshop before the regular meeting. Building Commissioner Russ Segraves estimates it would cost $155,000 to enforce the ordinance during its first year. He based the figure on having two full-time and two part-time code enforcement officers who “would go out looking for smoking.”

Twenty-two people, 15 of them opposed to the ordinance, addressed the panel before it voted Monday.

“You do not take the rights of an American away,” said Don Herrold, a World War II veteran and chaplain of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1832. “I hate to see our freedom being taken away, and it’s being taken away.”

“I think we have the right to be able to walk into a restaurant that’s smoke free,” said Carolyn Isgrigg, who said she’s lost several family members to smoking-related cancer.

“It’s unfair to ask a businessperson to choose between some of his customers and all of his customers,” said business owners and nonsmoker Conrad Storz III. “Smoking is bad, but this is wrong.”

“You either have to vote for people and their health, or you’re going to vote for profit,” said Gary Leavell, president of the Jeffersonville-Clark County Chapter of the NAACP.

Some opponents who spoke conceded that the ordinance would pass, and directed their pleas toward Waiz.

“I hope Mayor Waiz will consider the other option,” said Libertarian Kirk Singh. “I would appreciate anything you can do to turn the power back to the people to run their own lives.”

Councilwoman Connie Sellers, one of the three Republicans who voted against Council Vice President Barbara Wilson’s proposal, said the panel should have spent more time considering the rights of business owners, who would enforce the ban and how the city would pay for enforcement.

“All of this should have been ironed out before it was brought to us this evening,” she said.

“No amount of time we spend on this is going to change that philosophical difference,” said Councilman Phil McCauley, who has repeatedly indicated concern for the health of food-services workers who are subjected to second-hand smoke.

So you know

On Monday, the Jeffersonville City Council Voted 4-3 along party lines to approve the final reading of an ordinance that would ban smoking in most public places in the city. Democrats voting for the ordinance were its sponsor, Council Vice President Barbara Wilson and Councilmen Keith Fetz, Phil McCauley and John Perkins. Republicans voting against the ordinance were Council President Ron Grooms, Councilwoman Connie Sellers and Councilman Ed Zastawny.

A pair of amendments offered by Perkins that would have exempted restaurants with separate entrances and ventilation systems and businesses with fewer than five employees, failed because no one would second his motion for the amendments.

What’s Next

State law gives Mayor Rob Waiz 10 days to sign or veto the ordinance. If Waiz fails to do either before the Dec. 1 deadline, he is considered to have opted for a “pocket veto” and the ordinance will not take effect.

About the ordinance: If Waiz signs the ordinance it will take effect in 180 days and will be enforced by the Building Commission. Businesses that permit smoking, and the smokers themselves, are subject to a $50 fine if they are cited for violations. Exemptions to the ordinance include private residences, other than those licensed for child care; adult day care or health care facilities; no more than 20 percent of a hotel’s or motel’s rooms; retail tobacco stores; private clubs; bars and outdoor places of employment.

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