Talks start on Indiana smoking-ban compromise

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Legislators began negotiations Monday toward a compromise on proposed statewide smoking restrictions, with a leading supporter of a comprehensive ban saying the bill shouldn't prevent cities and counties from adopting tougher ordinances.

Republican Rep. Eric Turner of Cicero, who is leading the House-Senate conference committee handling the smoking ban bill, said he wouldn't support a provision added to the bill last week by the Senate that would block any new local smoking ordinances. That is one of several changes senators made in watering down the statewide restrictions.

Numerous cities and counties around the state currently have local ordinances that ban smoking in public buildings and workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

"I don't want to go down that path of trying to trump what locals have successfully done for a number of years," Turner said.

The House-approved bill would prohibit smoking in nearly all public places and businesses but give bars an 18-month exemption to the ban and continue to allow smoking at Indiana's 13 casinos, private clubs, retail tobacco stores, and cigar and hookah bars. The Senate greatly weakened the measure by cutting bars out of the proposed ban and adding new carve-outs for assorted businesses like veterans homes and nursing homes.

Casinos have argued they would see fewer gamblers if they were covered by the smoking ban — potentially threatening the some $650 million a year in tax revenue the state receives from them.

Mike Smith, president of the Casino Association of Indiana, told the conference committee that casinos worried that local governments could include them in local bans in the future if state law didn't prevent such action.

Republican Sen. Beverly Gard of Greenfield, the smoking ban bill's Senate sponsor, said she thought it was important to protect the right of cities and counties to adopt tougher smoking rules than whatever becomes state law.

Gard said that many new bars and restaurants had opened around Greenfield despite tough smoking bans in the city and Hancock County.

"It is a very family-friendly environment," she said. "No one can tell me that going smoke free is going to be bad for business because in my county and my hometown it has not been bad for business."

The negotiators expect to offer a compromise bill by the end of this week, when legislative leaders are planning to adjourn this year's session.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he wants to see a statewide smoking ban with as few exemptions as possible, but hasn't specified what exemptions he believed were acceptable.

Anti-smoking advocates are opposing efforts to extend the bar exemption past the September 2013 deadline approved by the House. Opposition from health advocates last year to a House-approved bill that included a bar exemption without an end date contributed to its defeat in a Senate committee.

Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, offered an amendment the Senate adopted last week that would prohibit local ordinances from banning smoking at any home businesses. But Young, who was among those who opposed the bill in the Senate's 29-21 vote, said he thought smoking rules in general shouldn't be covered by state law.

"I just think this is an issue the local communities should decide," Young said.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

  2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

  3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in 1997...in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

  4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............