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North Manchester moves on smoking ban

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN

achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

and MACKENZI KLEMANN

mklemann@wabashplaindealer.com

NORTH MANCHESTER—The North Manchester Town Council held the first of three readings for the expansion of a smoking ban for the town.

The ordinance expands to town’s prohibition on smoking in enclosed spaces to include private clubs and bars, and expands the prohibition on smoking in front of a public place from eight feet to 15 feet.

The revisions come just in time for summer festival season: Other changes in the proposed ordinance, approved on first reading on Wednesday, would prohibit smoking in public places and within 15 feet of outdoor public events, like parades and festivals.

“I think it’s a very positive thing for the town of North Manchester,” said Town Council member Tom Dale, who’d like to see outdoor events like Fun Fest become smoke-free.

The ordinance passed unanimously on first reading Wednesday, and will head to a second and third reading later this summer.

There hasn’t been any public pushback thus far.

No dissenters were present at Wednesday’s hearing. Dan Gray, director of the Wabash County Tobacco Free Coalition, says he hasn’t heard any negative feedback since he started advocating for the policy in front of the Wabash and North Manchester councils several months ago, either.

Gray says the idea is to protect employees who work in bars and other venues exempt from the state’s smoke-free air law. He’d ultimately like to see tighter smoke-free air policies enacted in all of Wabash County.

Few businesses will be impacted by the change.

At The Inn, which still allows smoking, manager Charlene Young says she’d consider creating an outdoor smoking space if the ordinance passes. But Young told the Plain Dealer she’s okay with the proposed changes.

“I don’t think we’ll lose any business because of it,” she said.

The North Manchester Town Council has been receptive to the idea since Gray first made his pitch.

“All of the evidence is there to say it’s an important thing to do,” said Council member James Smith.

Violators will be fined no more than $50 for smoking in a smoke-free zone, while businesses and property managers may be fined between $100 and $500.