An Indiana Supreme Court decision struck down Evansville's 2012 smoking ban. Now smokers could soon be lighting up inside some of the city's bars and private clubs.
Those with the city tell 14 News that they are disappointed with the decision. But those on the other side, who fought the ban, are celebrating.
The 2012 ordinance banned smoking in bars and private clubs, but extended a special exemption to the riverboat, now named Tropicana Evansville.
Many local bars on Franklin Street say they'll remain smoke-free. The VFW Post 1114 was also a plaintiff in the case and they're considering allowing smoking inside their private club.
Jerry Blake says it was never about smoking, it's always been about equality. He says they wanted the opportunity to make their own decision about smoking in their facility.
Blake says since the ban took effect in 2012, the VFW loses between $10,000 and $15,000 a month. The loses make it difficult for the club to operate, let alone donate to local charities.
He tells 14 News that the city was biased in giving Tropicana an exemption just because of the revenues it brings in.
"It's a good day for everybody. I think it's a good day for us. Regardless of whether the other local bars decide to stay non-smoking or smoking, but now it's back in our hands and it's our choice. That's all we ask," Blake says. "Our members are not looking at the smoking ban, our members are looking at- we got our rights back. Everybody here is going to be happy. We have smoking and non-smoking. We've always had that here. Nobody's ever complained because it's our right."
Members of the VFW voted Tuesday night and the decision was made to allow smoking inside the bar area. They say the process will start on Wednesday.
They say there is a permit process they have to go through, and they must also provide a diagram of where smoking will be allowed in the building. The state allows one smoking area within a building.
Blake says once they submit their permit application, it should take two to three weeks for it to be approved.
Also, we're told that many of the bars and clubs involved in the action have a suit pending in federal court to recoup money they say they lost due to the ban.
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