Fight looming over banning smoking in Indiana bars

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Haggling over whether to allow exemptions for bars and more smoking areas at casinos as part of a statewide smoking ban in Indiana has pushed back debate among House members, the bill's sponsor said Thursday.

Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, said he's trying to work with fellow legislators, adding that debate on possible amendments will begin Friday or Monday.

"We're trying to reach a conclusion on minimizing the number of exemptions and still passing the bill," Turner said.

The current bill would prohibit smoking in nearly all public places and workplaces, including bars. It would continue to allow smoking on casino gambling floors and at fraternal and veterans clubs, cigar and hookah bars and retail tobacco shops.

Some House members plan to seek additional exemptions for bars and all buildings on casino property.

Those exemptions were included in a smoking ban bill approved by the House last year. Health advocates argued that it would have given the state one of the weakest bans in the country, and the bill was defeated in a Senate committee after its chairman argued the bar exemption was needed to win Senate passage.

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, is pushing for the removal of smoking limits on casino buildings and says he thinks that exemption is needed to protect the state's 13 casinos from competition in neighboring states — and the some $650 million a year in tax revenue the state receives from them.

"I don't think there's any question that patrons expect to be able to smoke when they come to a casino and that would extend not only to the gaming area, but to the restaurants and the common areas," Eberhart said.

The House has approved statewide smoking limits five times in recent years, but the Senate has never voted on those bills. Turner said he believes greater public support and Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels' endorsement will help the broader ban's chances this year.

But Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, said while he frequents places that don't allow smoking, he still thinks bar owners should have the right to set smoking policies.

"I just don't like government regulation and feel like businesses should have the opportunity to decide whether they should be smoke free," he said.


  • smoking in bars lose money
    Left a bar in Huntington last night because they still had smoking. My money will go elsewhere.
  • What's so sad...
    is everyone seems to think stories about prospective visitors (or people looking to settle) to the city are offended by our toleration of smoking.

    The Men's & Women's Big 10 hoops tournaments with be in Indy this year. In the past, the city has taken time to designate particular streets and common locations where they can be encouraged to huddle together.

    I don't remember the last time a team DIDN'T ask for a change of venue because the smoking was more than they were willing to tolerate.

    If California is so open, how is it a statewide no-smoking law has held up? Ditto for NY.
  • Enough with Exemptions - Just Pass the Law
    Indiana is almost at the bottom of the curve when it comes to protecting the health and safety of its residents and visitors regarding secondhand smoke.

    It appears that public pressure has finally reached the local and state legislators to pass an extended smokefree air law. Stop with the added exemptions and just pass the darn thing.

    You have the largest sporting event in the country to take place next week in Indianapolis and you need to become a first class city by then.
  • Fight this ban
    If you are a conservative, shame on you for backing this! We need less government interference in our lives. WE do not need this ban. Let the market decide the issue.

    If it's about Health Care costs then the real issue here is that we offer FREE Health Care - Socialistic Health Care.

    I pay for my health care. If I smoked, I would have to pay more for it.

    Conservatives please unite against this ban and any other that strips freedoms from privately owned businesses to decide how to run their business.
  • Privately owned/government ran!
    What will the government dictate to business owners next? Where is the free market in this lefislation? If non-smokers just go to non-smoking bars and it effects the smoking bars, let the market decide for them to go non-smoking.

    Why do we need big brother dictating this to us?

    Giving up freedom for protection? Look up the quote. If you are trying to have the government take this freedom to give protection, you deserve neither one!
  • Smoking by-products

    I happen to enjoy a drink or two at a bar. How would the smokers feel if I stood on a chair and shared the by-product on them?

    When sporting events are in town, they frequently get "hometown" designations - a place to hang out.

    How many teams have asked for bars to allow smoking vs. those which are quite open about getting another bar which doesn't allow smoking?

    The reason Indiana has any exemptions to smoking is because we're next door to Kentucky...and we rank somewhere between 2nd-5th, depending upon the direction of the breeze.

    Just out of curiosity, how can smoking be banned in a state so liberal & care free: California ???
  • Hey KMiller
    Hey KMiller. I'll send you my Masters Business Program project from about 7 years ago that show the cities that banned smoking in bars (mainly Bloomington) but also focused on non-college towns across the country. Guess what, out of a sample size of 347 bars you know how many closed because of a lack of business because of going smoke free. That's 4%! In fact, in Bloomington, none shut down because of the ban, in fact many actually flourished, expanded their facilities.

    You know what the smokers did - they walked outside, smoked and came right back in. OMG- you mean the smoker actually left and got back in. You bet! You know what else happened in this study - revenues rose. Why? because those who smoke, like to drink, those who drink like to smoke - so they won't stay away for every. And guess what - the increase in revenue was from attracting more people who detested going to the bars just to have to get home at 2am to take a shower or immediately wash your sheets the next day. Get over this exemption cow dung and DO IT!

    Did you realize one of the most long-running, oldest bar in Indiana - the Slippery Noodle voluntarily went smoke-free. I've been 8 times since to enjoy music. How many times did I go when it was smoke-filled. ONCE. And that was enough.

  • Is Indiana unique?
    If Indiana is really so different from neighboring states and all other states, then I guess it ought to be having this debate from scratch some 20-25 years since other jurisdictions had theirs.

    If Indiana has anything similar to the demographic of other states, maybe it ought o have a look at what other cities and states have done.

    Then you won't pay any attention to nonsense doom and gloom statements like KMiller's.

    If anyone cares to check with bar owners in a place where there is a smoking ban, here is what they generally say:
    -- my revenues are up 4%. Smokers don't stay away, and new non-smoker customers come in!
    -- my costs are down 4%. Insurance, cleaning and furniture repair/replacement are all now less costly.
    -- As long as the rules are applied equally, and there isn't a nearby holdout jurisdiction for smokers to go to, this new policy is great for business!
    -- I wish we had banned smoking in bars years ago!

    Welcome to the 90s, Indiana. I think your interest in living in the past might be the only thing that makes you unique. Otherwise, pay attention to what thousands of other jursidictions have already found out.
  • No Smoking
    Smoking is a smokers problem, if Im having a drink I dont want to breath someone'ss noxious breath.
    Even in a backassward state like indiana there are more non smokers than smokers so take that and spit it in your mountain dew bottle.
  • Whatever
    KBarnes... Have bars closed down like that in all the major cities and/or states that have passed smoking bans? If this were 15 years ago when it was a new issue, the benefit of the doubt could be given. However, there is empirical evidence that your doom and gloom prediction does not come true. And if you think for a minute a 21 year old is going to set foot in the American Legion, you're insane. This is going to happen, if not state wide this year than in the City. It's about time you start planning your post law habits. If it means you're joining the Moose, then go for it. The 80% of us that don't smoke and may choose not to go out because of people who do, will come out in droves and fill in your bar stools.
  • Improper Labeling?
    Hmmm... maybe we should stop calling this a "Smoking Ban" and label it what it has turned out to be... a "Smoking Suggestion." Another toothless wonder to clutter our legislative books.
  • Another thing
    Folks commenting that they are for the smoking ban in bars and think it will make them a "better place" to hear bands, visit, etc.....no it won't. A smoking ban in bars will cause more and more bars to shut down completely. Their customer base will end up at clubs such as the American Legion, Moose, Elks, Eagles...where smoking will still be permitted. It will just force more small businesses out.
  • Another thing
    Folks commenting that they are for the smoking ban in bars and think it will make them a "better place" to hear bands, visit, etc.....no it won't. A smoking ban in bars will cause more and more bars to shut down completely. Their customer base will end up at clubs such as the American Legion, Moose, Elks, Eagles...where smoking will still be permitted. It will just force more small businesses out.
  • Exempt Bars As Well
    Allowing cigarette smoking to remain in clubs, but banning it in bars is way off base. Clubs allow children to be on the property....bars do not. You must be 21 to enter a bar. Why is smoking allowed in venues where children can be present, but banned from locations where you must be over 21 to enter? Casinos provide gambling, and drinking to those over 21.....bars are for those over 21 as well. Why can't bars allowing smoking if they choose to do so?
    • Out of Touch Legislators!
      It is obvious that the lobbyists are once again buying off our law makers! It is either that, our they just do not care about the health of employees of the proposed businesses to be exempted from the smoking ban. Neither do they seem to care about the health of their constituents who patronize these businesses. They also seem not to care about the economic health of these businesses that will by-in-large be avoided by the almost 80% of the non-smokers in the state. Real smart legislating Republicans!
    • Exceptions
      I hate going to a bar and coming home smelling like cigarette smoke. It is disgusting and I smoked for the majority of my life. Restaurants are already smoke free so if you exempt bars, it is what you already have now and defeats the purpose of the proposal.
    • Alternative Solution
      If as the pundits claim, over 20% of Hoosiers legally smoke. Why can't we have legal places to smoke? Can the City up their revenue by issuing permits through Code Compliance to the Owners of venues that choose to allow smoking? These permits would dictate that Owners, Workers and patrons exercise their legal right to own, work and yes, play in a "smoking environment". Not all of us belong to a Legion Hall and would not be allowed admittance to legally smoke. This way there would be no discrimination between the venues and non-smokers would have nothing to complain about and would not be able to take away the rights of others.

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