June 24, 2015

Exemption to Indianapolis Smoking Ban Removed, While Rest Stands

INDIANAPOLIS -- The state Court of Appeals has ruled that an exemption from Indianapolis’ smoking ban for an off-track horse betting parlor is unconstitutional, but the overall no-smoking ordinance will stay on the books.

A panel of appeals court judges decided Wednesday to sever the exemption from city law that allowed Hoosier Park off-track horse betting parlor to continue to allow indoor smoking while it was outlawed in nearly every other bar in the city. Smoking at the OTB is effectively no longer allowed.

The court found that the exemption did in fact violate the state’s equal privileges clause in the Indiana Constitution. Judges say the no-smoking ordinance treats places like Hoosier Park differently.

The court said it found the argument made by attornies for both the city and Hoosier Park to be "unpersuasive."

But the group of neighborhood taverns that sued over the ban won’t be able to start letting patrons smoke again. The court struck down just that one portion of the law, while allowing the rest to stand.

City law on smoking was expanded in 2012 to include all indoor establishments, though some exemptions – like for private clubs and cigar bars -- are still legal.

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