Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 1, 2013

Smoking ban could be expanded

County-wide ban under discussion.

Kokomo — Howard County officials are considering a county-wide smoking ban in an effort to level the playing field for all businesses.

There has been a smoking ban in Kokomo since 2006 which exempts tobacco outlets, bars and taverns and fraternal organizations.

A state-wide smoking ban went into effect on July 1, 2012 which prohibited smoking in all public places and eight feet from an entrance. Exemptions were granted for bars and taverns, horse racing facilities, off-track betting parlors, casinos and riverboats.

Richard Miller, president of the Howard County Council, said Tuesday he was approached by Tom Miklik, a member of the Kokomo Common Council, about a total county wide smoking ban.

“The commissioners should look into it,” Miller said. “I don’t know why we don’t have a county-wide ban.”

The smoking ban in Kokomo has created some issues, he said.

“It’s an issue of fairness,” Miller said.

Later in the week Miller said the commissioners, which has the authority to implement a county-wide smoking ban, should address the issue.

He said Miklik is interested in joint city and county participation in implementing a comprehensive smoking ban.

The issue was raised when the council on Tuesday approved a $6,000 grant from the state for the Howard County Health Department for smoking cessation programs operated through the Family Service Association.

Miller said an article in the Kokomo Tribune that noted Howard County is the 68th unhealthiest county in Indiana. The study published by the non-profit group County Health Rankings & Road maps showed Howard County had more fast food restaurants than the state average, 34 percent of county residents are obese and 25 percent of the population are smokers.

“A few years ago the city ban excluded certain places and there was a lot of discussion,” Miller said. “The conversation should take place.”

Miller said the Greentown and Russiaville town councils should be asked to participate in any discussions concerning a county-wide smoking ban.

Commissioner Paul Wyman said there are discussions taking place in an effort to create a level playing field for businesses operating in the county.

Those discussions should include those opposed to and those that favor an expanded smoking ban in Howard County, he said.

“Any potential ordinance should contain some guidelines,” Wyman said, “otherwise somebody has an advantage. We’re still discussing what is needed to create a level playing field that would include the entire county.”

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