Bars & Taverns React to Lifted Smoking Ban

Published 02/11 2014 06:21PM

Updated 02/11 2014 07:48PM

Evansville, Ind. - The Indiana Supreme Court decision to lift the ban on smoking in River City bars has many businesses reconsidering whether they should allow their customers to smoke. Bars and fraternal organizations challenged the ordinance shortly after it went into effect in 2012. Numerous bars survived the change but, they say not without losing substantial amount of revenue.

"I've seen a steady decline since April 2012 as far as the smoking ban is concerned", says Rick Fox.

When the Evansville smoking ban was put in place in 2012; Cecil's Bar owner, Rick fox says he lost a lot of business.

 "I've definitely taken a direct hit on this", he added.

Many businesses took a hit, but businesses like Cecil's and Harbor Bay remain --trying to cater to non-smokers inside and to smokers outside with a patio where customers are allowed to light up.

"I feel sorry for those who actually lost their livelihood", says Mike Linenburg of Harbor Bay Restaurants.

Fox and Linenberg are part of a group that filed suit against the smoking ban ordinance.

"I agree from the beginning that it was unconstitutional. You can't allow one to do something and not allow another group to do something", Fox added.

That changed this morning when the supreme court struck down the ban.

"I'm happy that we're all gonna be able to play on the same level of playing field again, says Mike Linenburg.

Harbor Bay managers are surveying customers on the possibility of smoking in their bar again. While other bars are choosing not to let any patrons light up.

"We went smoke free on april first 2012 and I'm trully personally excited that we made the decision to stay a smoke free facility", says Lamasco Owner, Amy Word.

When Judge Les Shively was attorney; he filed the suit against the city. The judge calls the supreme court's vote a monumental one.

"For there to be a 3 to 2 decision that doesn't happen often this is a court that pretty well hangs together" he said.

The power now falls on the laps of customers that frequent these bars.

" I think it helps service a great population of people who both enjoy the acts in a smoke free environment and of course we're accomodating to any smokers", Word added.

Eyewitness News reached out to several other bars on their next step after this decision. Some are undecided while bars like cecil's have already filed for a waiver to allow smoking.

Report by Fadia Patterson


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