Clay County Tobacco Coalition Director Kandace Brown presented council members the results of a public opinion poll conducted by the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Survey Research Center.
"The study shows that rural communities are in support of smoke-free ordinances," Brown said. "This is a public health issue, but it would not be an ordinance saying people are not allowed to smoke."
Brown added the proposed ordinance would make indoor areas of businesses, restaurants, bars and private clubs, but allows for outdoor smoking areas to be created.
Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Director of Program Evaluation Miranda Spitznagle broke down the statistical results of the survey for the council.
"Out of the 607 people in Clay County surveyed, 409 of them live in Brazil," she said. "Sixty-nine percent of Clay County adults surveyed said they would support an ordinance prohibiting smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars and private clubs."
Spitznagle added the results showed a strong public recognition of the hazards of second-hand smoke, along with evidence that business may increase if establishments become smoke-free environments.
"The findings show that there should not be a negative effect on businesses if they become smoke-free," she said. "Of those surveyed, 59 percent said they would continue to eat out as often as they do now, while 27 percent said they would eat out more, and only 14 percent said they would go out to eat less."
Brown also presented a draft of the potential ordinance, and council members were unified in believing a smoke-free ordinance would be a good thing.
City Attorney Bob Pell also posed the question of who would be responsible for enforcing the potential ordinance.
"We don't have a city health department, so there may not be a mechanism for enforcement at this time," Pell said.
Brown said the enforcement agent would be set by the council, and could be local law enforcement, the city itself or the county health department.
"These type of ordinances are very self-enforcing and there are high compliance levels," Spitznagle added.
At the end of the discussion, the council elected to table the matter for the time being to allow a complete ordinance to be created, and will consider the matter further during its December meeting.
In other business during Wednesday's meeting, the Common Council of the City of Brazil:
* Passed an ordinance on the first reading, with suspended rules, updating it to reflect the city's insurance buyout policy as ongoing instead of for a specific year. The ordinance allows the city to pay city employees not on the city's insurance a $1,000 bonus near the end of each calendar year. Clerk-Treasurer Karen McQueen said only three employees paid through the General Fund are affected by this, and if they were on the city's insurance, it would cost approximately $15,000 a year per employee,
* Updated a separate ordinance -- passed with suspended rules on the first reading -- setting the mileage reimbursement rate for employees using their personal vehicles for city business to be the same as the state rate. The current ordinance had not been updated since 2005, at which time the rate was 35 cents per mile, and
* Scheduled a public hearing for 6:45 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 17, for the purpose of discussing appropriating funds in the Rainy Day Fund for the 2011 budget. The hearing will be followed by a work session to discuss potential changes to the animal ordinance.
The next regular meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil will be at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec 8. This meeting, along with those on Nov. 17 will take place in the Council Chambers at City Hall.