Inside Grandma's Kitchen in Argos, customers can enjoy a cup of joe and side of coleslaw…while they smoke.
“A lot of places already chose not to [allow] smoke in their businesses,” said restaurant owner Louise Metsker. “That was their choice, that’s great. I’ll go for it. But this is mine. It's not the state's, it's not the Governor's. This is mine. People have a choice whether they wanna walk in that door or not.”
Come July first, a state-wide smoking ban forbids her customers and servers to light up within eight feet of the door. Governor Mitch Daniels signed the bill it into law this morning.
It doesn’t take effect until July 1, and when it does, the only public places you'll be able to smoke are bars, casinos, taverns, private clubs, and tobacco shops.
“I just think it’s very unfair. Very unfair,” Metsker said.
But most of her customers welcome the ban. Betty Powell told WSBT she started smoking in high school, but quit when she was 40 years old. Today, she’s 80-years-old, hooked up to oxygen 24 hours a day and blames most of her health issues on smoking.
“If they hadn’t had smoking maybe back when I was smoking a lot, I wouldn't be in this shape,” Powell said. “I have emphysema. I get pneumonia at least once a year as a rule. I get bronchitis.”
Marshall County does not have a smoking ordinance. But St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties do. The state-wide ban does allow local cities and counties with tougher bans already in place to keep them.
But here’s where it gets confusing. About 10 St. Joseph County restaurants have a separate bar area where they allow smoking. Those restaurants will have to follow the new state law and be entirely smoke free within the whole restaurant by July. That includes restaurants like Houlihan's, Bar Louie, Buffalo Wild Wings and TGI Fridays in Mishawaka.
Still, some who pushed for Indiana’s smoking ban say they’re disappointed it doesn’t go further.
“I was hoping that since Indiana was so late coming up with a law at all that at this point we would certainly have a strong law,” said Mark Potuck, Elkhart County tobacco control project director. “I think it’s very watered down.”
Indiana is the 30th state to enact a state-wide public smoking ban.
There are some confusing parts to the ban. Bills like this one are changed and amended many times as they go through the legislative procedure. When WSBT last spoke with the St. Joseph County Health Department Monday afternoon, their attorney was still reading over the law and trying to figure out the specifics of local impact.