Kicking Ash: Indy's Smoking Ban

A fairly comprehensive smoking ban finally took effect in Marion County this summer, and as the air clears, winners and losers are emerging. Who’s breathing easy, and who got burned?

Cigarettes butts


» Bars & Eateries with a Deck

The new ordinance allows smoking on open patios, as long as puffers stay eight feet from any entrance.

» Cigar Bars & Hookah Joints

Establishments that were in business for at least a year prior to the ban can let customers light up as usual.

» State Representative Charlie Brown

The Democrat proposed a broad statewide ban in the General Assembly six times. A watered-down version takes effect this month, but the citywide restrictions have emboldened Brown to try again for a stricter law next year. “I think it raises the public consciousness on this issue,” he says.

» Visit Indy (formerly Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association)

No more apologizing to convention organizers for Indy’s out-of-fashion tolerance of smoking in restaurants. 

» Restaurant Servers

If a lower risk of cancer weren’t enough: “The best part is not having to wash your hair [after a shift] so that you don’t skunk up your pillow,” says one Broad Ripple waitress.

» Cheating Hearts

Flirters who shouldn’t be flirting will no longer bring home the damning scent of an ashtray.


» Policemen who Smoke

The new law demands that company- (and government-) owned vehicles remain cigarette-free. 

» Indy Vapor Shop

Billing itself as the city’s only retailer of also-banned “electronic cigarettes,” Indy Vapor was a vocal opponent of the new law. “They’re forcing [e-cig] users to go outside with the smokers, exposing them to the very product [lawmakers] are trying to keep people away from,” says owner Michael Cline. 

» Republican Councillor Aaron Freeman

Before voting against it, Freeman called the comprehensive ban “premature” in a Network Indiana interview—even though 79 percent of Americans live under such a law.

» Tavern League of Indiana

Organized to defend “your right to choose the type of environment you want to provide your loyal customers,” the statewide advocacy group lost this fight. Meanwhile, founder Brad Klopfenstein is running for lieutenant governor on the
Libertarian ticket, alongside Survivor alum Rupert Boneham.

» Pick-up Artists

The old standby “Need a light?” is pretty much out the window. “Fancy a mint?” not nearly as smooth.


This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue.