Portage American Legion faces tough decision on smoking

2012-06-03T19:15:00Z 2012-06-04T12:10:52Z Portage American Legion faces tough decision on smokingBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The state's new law banning smoking in public places starting next month is leaving members of Portage American Legion Post 260 in a quandary.

Cmdr. Bruce Thorn said he believes it is a no-win situation for the group, which has been struggling in recent years.

The new law, effective July 1, requires groups such as American Legion posts to determine if their facilities will be smoking or nonsmoking.

The some 350 members of Post 260 are scheduled to vote on the matter between noon and 6 p.m. June 11 at the post.

If the membership decides the club and hall facility on Mulberry Avenue should become smoke free, there will be concerns over lost revenue, Thorn said.

The group rents its hall for wedding receptions and other events and currently leaves the smoking policy up to renters. It also hosts bingo events. Then there are the bar sales, which would be at risk if a smoking ban causes fewer people to spend their time and money at the legion, Thorn said.

If the post votes to continue allowing smoking, the legion can no longer host events for children, including being the home of a local Boy Scout troop, he said.

If members vote to continue as a smoking facility, they also will have to decide whether the whole building will be for smoking or if they will ban smoking in either the hall or club portions of the building.

If members decide to ban smoking in only a portion of the building, they would have to construct a barrier between the two rooms even though the two rooms have separate ventilation systems, Thorn said.

"As a commander and a nonsmoker, I would love to see it go nonsmoking, but financially, I'm afraid we would lose money," Thorn said.

He and the legion's executive committee are attempting to inform members of the pros and cons of the new law and their vote before a decision is made, he said.

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