Indy Restaurant Takes Action Prior to Council’s Smokefree Vote

El Comal Inc. Taqueria’s Move to Eliminate Smoking Sections Comes Four Days Before a City-County Council Vote to Make All Local Workplaces Smokefree

Indianapolis (November 7, 2003) ­ By next week, a plan could be in place to make all Marion County restaurants smokefree. One west-side eatery has decided not to wait.

With the Indianapolis/Marion County City-County Council preparing to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would make local workplaces ­ including restaurants ­ smokefree, Diana Castañeda, owner of El Comal Inc. Taqueria, is already working to eliminate smoke from her restaurant.

Cynthia Perez, an employee at El Comal and member of L.A.T.I.N.O.S. (Latinos Against Tobacco in our Neighborhoods Overcoming Smoke), urged her employer to create a smokefree environment.

“I’m excited that my friends and I won’t have to inhale cigarette smoke when we are working at El Comal now and in the future,” said Perez. “Also my clothes and my hair won’t have the nasty smell of cigarette smoke.”

Above the aesthetic appeal of a smokefree workplace, Castañeda made her decision based on health concerns for her customers and employees. Indiana Latino Institute President Aida McCammon knows that many central Indiana employees are currently forced to work in an unsafe environment.

"There are many Latino employees working in restaurants in Marion County," said McCammon. "A patron can leave a restaurant where smoking is allowed, but the Latino employees that wash dishes, bus tables and clean floors cannot leave the smoking section unattended. They have no choice and are required to breathe the harmful toxins in secondhand smoke."

In a special lunchtime ceremony held today, L.A.T.I.N.O.S. presented El Comal Inc. Taqueria with a plaque commending the restaurant, its owner and its employees for making the decision to go smokefree. El Comal is one of several restaurants in Marion County to eliminate smoking for the benefit of customers and employees.

Proposal 122, called “The Smoke-Free Workplace Protection Ordinance,” would require all employers ­ with the exception of enclosed bars and off-track betting facilities ­ to provide smokefree workplaces. The Rules & Public Policy Committee of the Indianapolis/Marion County City-County Council will consider a vote on Proposal 122 on Tuesday, November 11.