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Bar owners challenge Indy smoking ban

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Maya 18, 2015) – The Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments in the latest challenge to the Indianapolis smoking ban Monday afternoon. Bar owners filed a lawsuit after the ban went into effect because they feel the restriction violates their rights.

One of the bars involved in the lawsuit is the Thirsty Turtle. The owner, Jennifer Louise Liford, said she initially lost about 60 percent of her customers when the ban was put in place.

“I would like for them to reverse it,” Liford said. “The customers don’t agree with it at all.”

Liford said the ban is not fair because it allows certain specialty businesses, like tobacco bars, to continue to allow smoking while forcing other bars to prohibit it.

“It’s not fair to us the way we’re being treated, we need to get this settled,”Liford said.

Groups like the American Lung Association strongly support the smoking ban. Monique French, the director of tobacco control, feels overturning the smoking ban would be a big step back for the city.

“We think that it’ll have a devastating effect on Indianapolis,” she said. “We feel like we have come a long way with smoke free air in Indianapolis. I think a lot of tourists and people have enjoyed the great things that we have done as far as smoke free air law.”

In 2013, the Marion County Superior Court upheld Indy’s smoking ban. Part of the judge’s decisions read ‘The fact that their businesses have suffered from an economic standpoint, while unfortunate, does not establish that they have lost “all economically beneficial use” of their property. ‘

There have been challenges to smoking bans in other Indiana cities. Just last year, the Evansville smoking ban was overturned.

Oral arguments in the Indianapolis case begin at 2 p.m. Monday.