I agree that "going backward" is a poor sign, and I also believe that the entire discussion has had a high opportunity cost relative to what (in my opinion) Council should be working on, which is how to improve Fort Wayne's economic condition. Therefore, I am disappointed that the previous Council passed the extended ban in the first place.
Of course one could argue that a smoke-free Fort Wayne helps the city's economic condition. Improving public health certainly has direct financial benefits to the citizenry and its government. What certainly does not help economic development is to have the city council flip-flopping on local ordinances. Businesses will be more reluctant to invest in this community if they think our legislation is unstable. And I'm not sure I want the current council attempting to improve the city's economic condition. Of course if I were a baseball team owner or a Subway or McDonalds franchisee then I might feel differently.
Of course I do not question that smoking is very bad for everyone, and I agree that the national (and international) tide is moving toward comprehensive bans. Of course, you could say similar things about the effects of cars on our communities and our health (pollution, congestion, obesity).
These are poor analogies. Cars are an integral and critical part of most people's lives - the same cannot be said about smoking. Pollution is obviously a major concern and that's why it is heavily regulated. Obesity is an individual issue - the fat man standing next to me does not affect my health one iota.
What I do question is why Fort Wayne City Council needed to make the statement that it did, creating a very unlevel playing field, with (in my opinion) disregard for the impact on local businesses and their clientele. I support a broader ban that is statewide, because that would be both fairer to all businesses and also more effective.
First, the city did what was necessary to improve public health after the county commissioners failed to pass a comprehensive ordinance. The lack of such comprehensive ordinance in the county should be blamed for the unlevel playing field. Second, there is absolutely no publicly available evidence to support the idea that the smoking ban has harmed local business. While Goldner does not say this directly, it is often the core argument for rolling back the ban. This is something that is measurable if only the county would break out the food and beverage tax receipts for municipal businesses.
I am disappointed that Goldner takes a stance that is contrary to public health and the wishes of the citizenry. Her decision to roll back the ban would only erode whatever confidence the public might have left in the Fort Wayne city council