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Indiana Senate panel may vote on smoking ban after all

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The chairman of an Indiana Senate committee told a newspaper that he wouldn't call a critical vote on a proposed statewide smoking ban, but later told another newspaper that he changed his mind.

Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville that the bill was dead for the year, then changed his mind.

"I'll retract what I said — that the bill is dead — and just try to continue to keep an open mind," Alting told The Indianapolis Star.

Alting said he might call for a vote on the proposal at the Senate Public Policy Committee's April 6 meeting, but that he likely wouldn't allow any amendments. The bill currently includes exemptions for casinos, bars, fraternal clubs, smoke shops and nursing homes, and conservative leaders say some of those loopholes are needed for the bill to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Alting gave the smoking ban bill its first Senate committee hearing last week. At that meeting, he warned the ban's supporters that they could kill the bill by lobbying for a comprehensive ban that doesn't include wide exemptions.

Alting told the Post-Tribune on Tuesday that lobbyists for groups such as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association pushed too hard to remove the exemptions. Alting said the advocates would prefer to have "zero percent of 100."

The bill cleared the House of Representatives in a 68-31 vote in January, and Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he would sign it.

Health advocates want a bigger smoking ban that would protect all workers, even those who work in casinos and bars.

The exemptions for casinos and horse racing tracks were approved by the House after the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency said banning smoking there could cost Indiana's cash-strapped coffers about $190 million a year. The House later voted to exempt bars that only admit adults over age 21 after some lawmakers argued it was unfair to exempt casinos and tracks without exempting bars, because bars located near casinos could lose business if smokers decided to hang out at casinos instead of at bars.

Exemptions for nursing homes and fraternal clubs were also added to appease those who said veterans and those living in nursing homes should have the right to smoke in certain areas.

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  • Illinois Needs It
    Hopefully, this will reverse the flow of Chicago money flooding into Indiana.
  • I can't believe...

    ... that eliminating smoking in bars will cost them money.

    If you were to eliminate smoking statewide and you were to monitor the bars in Marion county and determine they would lose money. They might do so at the beginning as a form of protest, but people aren't going to stay away from establishments for 2, 3, or 4 years. People will just adjust.

    How is it other states are able to enact such legislation and have no problems - I don't think there have been legal acts against the state. We're not talking about

    California, as loose as it seems, outlaws smoking. So does New York.

    There doesn't seem to be an outcry there.

    Just out of curiosity, how many people would be willing to cough up some $$$ to compensate lost revenue because Indiana permits smoking? I loved a TV story about this and one of the guys said, "if they (visitors) don't like it, they can go somewhere else."

    I can just imagine visitors being told that Indianapolis expects them to do the legwork and find restaurants & bars which don't allow smoking. During the Big-10 tournament, someone with the city screwed up and assigned 3 teams to bars which permitted smoking.

    "They didn't ask" Yeah, right. They expected being able to go anywhere without dealing with smoking. The city should have asked, "do you want smoking or non-smoking restaurants/bars?"

    Why is the tail wagging the dog? Are politicians afraid of smokers?
  • Wow
    That's the best post I have ever seen on the subject.

    Well written and well stated. Thank you for the insight.
  • Pure economics...
    MCA, there is a very good reason why bars allow smoking despite that a minority of patrons smoke or even want to be in a place with smoking. The bar does not internalize all of the costs of allowing smoking. It gets all of the benefit, without any of the costs. I believe that every business should be allowed to allow smoking in their business, but that they should pay for the damage that causes. An additional wage should be paid to all employees who do not smoke but work there that will pay for their future medical bills. Based on annual expenses from second-hand smoke in the state, that should raise the cost for each waitress and bartender an extra few dollars per hour. Insurance premiums on the business should be higher, because smokers are more expensive to treat for the insurance company, and there's no reason for us non-smokers to subsidize the health of smokers through our health insurance costs.

    Once those simple externalities are internalized for the business owner, how many business owners will still allow smoking? My guess is that some still would, but it would not be most.

    That's not fair, you scream! That's taxing a businessperson for creating jobs! To that, I say that we are merely making the business owner responsible for the consequences of his business decisions.
  • smokingban
    republican and democrats its time to take our state back... maybe these organization need to tell non-smoking tax payers where most of the tax money comes from, cigarettes and alcohol. we can starve the small business owner out of business and open 500 more mexican business ventures. if you do-not smoke, why do you visit bars that do ? if you worry about smoke related illness why do you work there--- maybe the money? next election, be careful who you vote for, it might be your job their after.

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  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

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