"This is a passionate and heated topic, but it is a common good issue for the community," St. Vincent Clay Hospital Administrator Jerry Laue said. "As a respiratory therapist, I have seen numerous health issues."
Brown initially suggested the ordinance, which would prohibit smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars and private clubs, during the council's Nov. 10, 2010, meeting, and provided the council additional information, which she said would dispel the myths of economic failure in areas with similar ordinances.
One topic among many of the speakers was how employees are affected in establishments where smoking is allowed.
"While this ordinance would not directly affect Clay City, hopefully it would cause an expansion throughout the county," Clay City Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Sponsor Scott Stucky said. "We have some students working in establishments who are affected by the second-hand smoke."
Vigo County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Director Carrie Evans added, "The workers themselves are left out of the argument and need to be protected as well. There are laws in place protecting employees from other health issues like asbestos and requirements for washing their hands."
Former Greencastle City Council member Russell Evans commented on the unenviable position the council is in, and how things have progressed since Greencastle passed a similar ordinance in 2007.
"I know what you're going through and it's not going to be pretty because there is not a lot of gray area; either you're for it or you're not," Evans said. "It will take some adjustment for the community, but it will make Brazil a better city, and I cannot think of a restaurant that has closed in Greencastle since we passed our ordinance."
Evans also informed the council, upon the inquiry of City Attorney Bob Pell, that the mayor and police chief are responsible for the ordinance's enforcement in Greencastle.
American Cancer Society Community Representative Rachel Romas claimed the passage of such an ordinance may help keep the youth in the area.
"This would be great for the image of Brazil," she said. "We have students going off to college and they may not come back."
Jon Crooks, co-owner of Coach's TIMEOUT Sports Bar and Grill, 101 E. National Ave., Brazil, said there was never a thought to allow smoking in his business.
"When this business opportunity came along, it never crossed my mind to not make it smoke-free," he said. "Even though I have some people almost begging me to allow smoking, I will close the place before doing that."
Speakers also emphasized it was important to provide healthy, smoke-free environments outside of restaurants as well.
"It is important to give our kids smoke-free environments and something to model themselves after," Clay Community School Corporation Health Services Coordinator Lynn Stoelting said. "If we provide healthy environments and lives now, hopefully it will create healthier individuals that will increase school attendance and possibly lower health insurance costs."
"I, along with the council, are still researching the current ordinances in place in other cities, especially to see how they are being enforced," Bradshaw said. "Plus, I have heard the state legislature is looking into the matter on the state level, so we would like to see what the state does."
Brown, in turn, urged the council to press the issue.
"You don't have time to wait. It has been before the legislature numerous times before, and maybe action on the local level is the extra push they need," Brown said. "I am for the hierarchy of moral reasoning to protect everyone from second-hand smoke and all other arguments will fall short."
In opposition of the ordinance, Van Buren Township resident Walter Young expressed his belief it should be up to the residents to make this type of decision.
"Most of the medical information I've read says that obesity causes more health issues than smoking," Young said. "Personally, I think this should go up for a referendum vote so that all the public can decide."
Bradshaw told The Brazil Times Thursday, the choice on what to do ultimately falls at the discretion of the council.
Also speaking out in support of the proposed ordinance were Indiana Rural Health Association representative Jim Miller, respiratory therapist and former school board member Ted Jackson, YMCA of Clay County CEO Deb Plummer, Northview SADD Sponsor Debbie Allen and Owen County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coordinator Dave Newgent.
The next meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil will be 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, in the Council Chambers of City Hall.