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Statewide smoking ban bill clears House committee

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The latest attempt to impose a statewide smoking ban cleared its first step in the Legislature on Wednesday.

The Indiana House Public Health Committee voted 9-3 to endorse the bill prohibiting smoking in public places and indoor work sites — after it exempted casinos and pari-mutuel horse tracks from the ban.

Supporters said the casino exemption was needed to give the bill a chance at becoming law after the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimated the state could lose more than $180 million a year in casino taxes under a smoking ban.

Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion, urged the committee to approve the bill, saying more than three dozen states already have similar bans.

"It is time for Indiana to move in that direction," Turner said. "The argument that business will be hurt by this, I just don't buy it."

The House has passed smoking bans the past two years, but the bills haven't won Senate approval.

Supporters believe the ban might have a better chance this year since Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, has said he would consider giving it a hearing if it exempted casinos. Gov. Mitch Daniels also has said he would sign a ban into law.

The bill that passed the House last year also exempted bars, taverns and fraternal clubs — and some lawmakers are expected to push for similar exemptions when it is debated in the full House.

Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, a leading smoking ban advocate for several years, said he would fight an exemption for bars and that he believed the casino tax loss under a ban was overestimated.

"Even in the case of the smokers, they will drop off for a while, but they love gaming so they're going to come back even though they need to give up one vice to participate in another vice," Brown said.

Rep. Dave Frizzell, R-Indianapolis, voted against the bill in the committee, arguing that the state should not place such a mandate on businesses.

Brown said the 19 new Republicans who gave the GOP control of the 100-member House this session are wild cards.

"I don't know where the balance of all these new members hearing this debate for the first time will fall," Brown said.

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  • Dragon Born
    People who over eat are hurting themselves not others. I have no choice when I go to a public place that permits smoking...but to breath in stinking smoke. You can say I have a choice... don't go..but why should I be the one to stay home. I am not choosing to cause people health complications...the person that is putting others in harm should stay home and cough and choke on their smoke...not me. It is so selfish and rude of people.
  • I hope it passes
    I hope they pass this ban, then I hope they ban ice cream and sugar from being served as well. Since Indiana has soooo many people over weight, which is as much or more so a health problem than smoking is!!
    Then we will see how much these over weight non smokers like to be told what they are allowed to do in the name of protecting the welfare of the "state"!!
    Once you let them ban smoking, believe me, ice cream isn't that far behind!!

    Disgusted with these types of laws
    • private property
      If tobacco smoke is so dangerous that the government must ban an adults only establishment from allowing smoking on private property, then cigarettes need to be illegal.

      I don't smoke, and it has been decades since the last time I had no choice but to enter a building that allowed smoking. Whether it's a bar, a casino, or my mother in law's house, I have no right to stop them from smoking. I express my personal displeasure by going elsewhere.
    • OK, let's include...
      I hope they included the smoking room(s) in goverment buildings this time. Why should law makers be above the law!!!
    • Property Rights
      This bill is about squashing property rights. It is about controlling how private citizens run their establishments. In the course of history there is always some justification made to tread on individual rights. Think of the children some say! Think of the health!

      Let me make this clear. You do NOT have a right to go to a restaurant. You do NOT have the right to go to a bar. A restaurant owner or bar owner does NOT have the right to force you to go to his restaurant or bar. We all make individual choices about where, and how we patronize a business.

      • Casinos
        I just don't buy the excuse that tax money will be hurt by not exempting casinos. I know many people - non smokers who now refuse to go anywhere that allows smoking inside. I myself have asthma and have a very limited amount of time in a casino before I have to leave - it starts with my eyes burning, then moves onto my lungs and an asthma attack. Have they done any studies about the nonsmokers who will go out MORE or stay longer once a ban is in place?
      • Reply to Marie
        ARE YOU SERIOUS?? Let's have a smoking ban but excludes smoking establishments. What planet are you from? A SMOKING BAN = NO SMOKING. If we allow these exceptions then we don't have a ban.
      • You did not mention
        I do hope you have excluded cigar bars, Hookah bars, and those businesses that rely completely on smoking!
      • I want a better world for my children...
        It is time that we change Indianapolis for the better by banning all smoking inside any establishment that opens its doors to the public.

        This is not about business, regulation, or individual rights. This is about health, future generations, and ethics.

        It will also have a positive economic impact. More of the population does not smoke than does. It is fallacious to think that smokers will stop going out just because they cannot smoke inside. Look at the bar scenes in LA, Chicago, NY, DC, Bloomington, Portland... They have no problems attracting customers. Indianapolis will be better off with the ban.

        No one said that they can't smoke, just not inside. My friends who smoke don't complain when they come to my house and have to step outside to smoke. Further, most of my friends who do smoke will not smoke inside their own house!

        The time is now! If not for you, do it for the next generation.

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