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Casinos to escape smoking ban proposal

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 Lawmakers in the Indiana House say they'll exempt casinos from a proposed statewide smoking ban — a move that could give the legislation its best shot at becoming law while preventing the state from potentially losing millions of dollars in gambling taxes.

Casinos have long argued that a smoking ban would hurt business, and the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency recently estimated in a fiscal note that the state could lose more than $180 million a year in taxes if gamblers couldn't light up. The high price tag in a time of slumping state revenues meant there was no hope for a comprehensive ban, said Rep. Charlie Brown, a Democrat from Gary who has pushed for such a ban for several years.

"That fiscal note killed us," he said.

The House Public Health Committee discussed the bill Wednesday but didn't take a vote on it. However, Brown and Committee Chair Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said they would vote next week to amend the bill to exempt casinos.

"In this budgetary environment we're talking about — with every penny tight and any dollar taken away is a dollar taken away from K-12 education — it's our obligation to maybe minimize the impact," Tim Brown said.

Statewide smoking bans have passed the House before but have stalled in the Senate. Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Wednesday that he would consider giving the smoking ban bill a hearing this year — if it exempts casinos. Otherwise the ban would hurt casinos and reduce the amount gambling brings to the state, he said.

"That's just shooting ourselves in the foot," Long said.

Mike Smith, executive director of the Casino Association of Indiana, said the loss in gambling revenue wouldn't just harm the state — it would also affect employees, contractors, nearby businesses and others who depend on casinos.

"All those things are part of this multi-billion-dollar industry in Indiana," Smith said. "It's all about the opportunity for people to have jobs."

But advocates of a comprehensive smoking ban — one that would ban smoking in all public places in Indiana — said it wasn't fair to exempt casinos.

Karena Walker said she worked at Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg for more than 14 years before quitting in March. She said she suffered from health problems from secondhand smoke, and said her doctor told her she had the lung capacity of someone who smoked three packs a day. She said casino workers deserve the same protections as office workers and others who don't have to work around smokers.

"It's not fair. I don't understand what makes someone who works at a hospital any more special than I am," she said. "I had to choose my health over my job."

Some bar owners also want an exemption from the proposed smoking ban, but Charlie Brown said he was against giving any other exemptions. He said only casinos, horse racing tracks, off-track betting facilities and some other places like cigar bars should be exempt.

Supporters of the legislation report growing support for a statewide ban. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce supports it, and Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he will sign the bill into law if lawmakers approve it.

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  • Brown is a realist
    I applaud Rep. Brown for being a realist on this issue. The casino lobby is -- and has been -- backed with dollars from the tobacco industry -- and there's no way the Legislature will ever stand up to that kind of pressure.

    That said, this compromise for one exemption will likely allow the Senate and House to see their way clear to get this done. And, Gov. Daniels has already said he'll sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

    Memo to smoke free air supporters...you need to take this deal as this is as good as it's going to get for you.

  • This comments need to stop. Smoking Kills FACT
    Funny, Owner told me personally he can't and won;t let anyone but one or 2 guys and his wife which I highly doubt he pays her.
    FUTHER MORE, what does his money have to do with the smoking ban??? His money is his money and any bar owner with smoking that's opened in the last 2-3-years KNEW FULL WELL THIS WAS COMING (ps that includes the cigar bar)!!!!!!! We dont want to die from SECOND hand smoke and don't say stay away from the entire center.
  • 18+
    Since cigarettes are a product that only adults can legally use, I think that it's reasonable to limit smoking to adults only establishments. If you're old enough to either work in or patronize an adults only establishment, then you should be mature enough to decide if you want to be exposed to a dangerous, but legal substance.
  • La Flor Dominicana's are yummy!
    Another thoughtâ?¦which one of you is going to walk into the "cigar bar" and tell this hard working, small business owner that you don't like his "adult" product and that he has to close his business immediately. He gets no say in the matter because you don't like the smell his product emits when you occasionally pass by his establishment. This same small business owner who's not only sunk his entire life savings into his business that focuses on catering to "adults," but is also employing multiple people to support the local economy and probably paying more in business taxes than everyone else in the strip mall (possibly more than many businesses combined), which benefits both Marion County and the State of Indiana. This doesn't even take into consideration the cigar bar spending its hard earned dollars with local beverage distributors, web site developers, contractors, food distributors, etc. Which one of you is going to walk into the cigar bar and tell the employees behind the bar that they no longer have a job because you don't like the product their boss sells. Before you decided to fire all these employees, did you happen to ask them what they think not only about their boss' product, but also about working in this type of an establishment? You might be surprised to know that they all actually enjoy it and partake in the delight of a good cigar. Food for thoughtâ?¦
  • La Flor Dominicana's are yummy!
    Another thoughtâ?¦which one of you is going to walk into the "cigar bar" and tell this hard working, small business owner that you don't like his "adult" product and that he has to close his business immediately. He gets no say in the matter because you don't like the smell his product emits when you occasionally pass by his establishment. This same small business owner who's not only sunk his entire life savings into his business that focuses on catering to "adults," but is also employing multiple people to support the local economy and probably paying more in business taxes than everyone else in the strip mall (possibly more than many businesses combined), which benefits both Marion County and the State of Indiana. This doesn't even take into consideration the cigar bar spending its hard earned dollars with local beverage distributors, web site developers, contractors, food distributors, etc. Which one of you is going to walk into the cigar bar and tell the employees behind the bar that they no longer have a job because you don't like the product their boss sells. Before you decided to fire all these employees, did you happen to ask them what they think not only about their boss' product, but also about working in this type of an establishment? You might be surprised to know that they all actually enjoy it and partake in the delight of a good cigar. Food for thoughtâ?¦
  • Take a closer look
    Casinos say they will lose business if smoking is banned. There are two things wrong with this. One, I avoid casinos because they are smoky--so they lose my business. Two, smoking is banned in Chicago-area casinos in Illinois, so the argument to allow smoking to keep gamblers in Indiana is a false one. Also, to say "Get another job" to someone affected by secondhand smoke is stupid. Have you tried to get a job in Lawrenceburg?
  • Sunrise closes at 2:30pm
    Hey Lynn Lie A Lot, Your breakfast/lunch place closes at 2:30...How do you get complaints when the cigar bar is busy in the evening and you are home counting your unreported taxable tips? funny
  • Thoughts
    I don't understand how we can say smoking is legal but not in public. If a place is called a cigar bar and you don't like cigars don't enter. I think the ban now is working in Marion County so why are we changing it? Most resturants are nonsmoking and bars are half and half. You can choose where to go by their policy. How much will our taxes increase if the final goal "to eliminate all smoking" succeeds? The tax money from smokers covers alot in Indiana and nationally.
  • Pets Smell
    I don't like dogs or cats. They smell and the dander makes me sneeze and I cannot breathe. I don't go into pet stores. All pet stores should be banned because they stink up the malls. Also I don't like the smell of popcorn. No popcorn in movie theaters anymore. I hate the smell of fried potatoes, we should ban all fries at McDonald's. The worst is baby lotion, makes me gag, we should outlaw babies.
  • Convention
    Really? No one wants to admit that part of our attractive downtown convention business is the diversity of smoking and non smoking bars. Our communities are not behind because of smoking. What info are you getting? One would think the IBJ reader is slightly more educated than the masses.
  • Affected Leases
    Once we start allowing EXCEPTION, everyone will want in on that and again we have failed!!
    How do we tell the public, "we passed the Smoking Ban today, and oh by the way Cigar bars are exempt". That is not a smoking ban so therefore we failed my friends.
  • Pass the Bill
    Can we please get this bill passed? Our communities are falling behind neighboring states because of this. No one from out-of-state wants to come here and go into a smokey bar.
    • Dont give in charlie brown
      Exceptions to every rule hmmm. Why exempt big money casinos? Money, is it because these bankrupt entities are owned by the state. After they stole the market from the local bingo halls and NFPs that used the gambling revenue to support the local communites. I am just about through arguing for an individuals right to own an establishment and allow smoking - the whiners are the majority and they are relentless. They dont care about individual rights because they believe in the collective rights of all. Regardless, charlie brown if you exempt casinos then you need to exempt anyone else that wants to allow smoking. Or are we all equal just some of us are more equal than others.
      • Is that a Davidoff you're smoking?
        I agree with a more restrictive ban on smoking in certain public places; however, if a business owner wishes to allow smoking in their establishment, then it's their choice and the choice of their customers and employees to frequent/work there. No one is twisting anyoneâ??s arm to enter an environment they do not wish to. If you don't wish to be exposed to the smoke, then don't work there or cast your vote with your dollars and go elsewhere. Places like cigar bars are "in business" to sell cigars and to offer their customers a friendly and relaxing place to enjoy them. Some people enjoy cigars, but do not want to smoke them in their house, car, etc because of the lingering smell, hence the advent of the cigar bar. I do not know of anyone looking to have a beer after work that would purposefully seek out a cigar bar if they did not enjoy cigars.
        I also question the validity of the cigar smoke infiltrating the entire strip mall. I think a more likely cause is the fact that several of the employees at the other businesses have employees/owners that smoke out front or back and then re-enter the business, thereby introducing smoke into the establishment. I have personally seen employees smoking cigarettes out front of several of these businesses, so it canâ??t necessarily be blamed on the cigar bar.
        Yes, at times if there are a lot of cigar smokers in the cigar bar at one time it can become overly smoky and the doors may be opened to clear the air out quickly; however I highly doubt that it is ruining business in the strip mall because of this. If anything, I would think that at least a few of the businesses in the strip mall have benefited from the more affluent clientele of the cigar bar frequenting their establishments.
        One could argue that a carâ??s exhaust is much more dangerous than a cigar, and I would rather take a long drag on a cigar than a tailpipe. Wouldnâ??t you? Whatâ??s next, legislation to ban cars from parking lots that have a business near them?
        Letâ??s all be adults about this and make reasonable decisions as it pertains to smoking bans. If you donâ??t like a cigarâ??s smoke, stay away from it. If you do like it, please pull up a bar stool next to me and letâ??s talk about your favorite cigars.
      • Ban
        If tobacco smoke is so dangerous that a group of adults cannot agree to smoke on private property, then cigarettes need to be taken off the market
      • Ramz
        I agree with you. This mud slinging above is so childlike. We as a state need to confine smokeing to our homes (with out children) not the public. I agree about the center though. The entire area is a smoke fest. Hope the vote passes sometime in my or my young kids lifetime. G-d bless all, especially the smokers..you might need it the most.
      • Employees Smoke Cigarettes
        Lynn, Are you one of the cigarette smokers in front of Sunrise? The pizza hut, the barber, the scottrade, the foot solutions, atomic hair, and ruths cafe all have cigarette smoking employees..who smoke in front of their store front...is that what you smell?
      • Lynn is spreading the cigar smell lie!
        Lynn, even though you don't like cigar smell, the fatty, unhealthy food you serve is no better. And Lynn, why do you believe "passit" unless you are behind this whole blog comments. perhaps you are the one spreading the lie about the strip center. Are your tips are down because your customers are now eating at the cigar bar?
        • Bad Info Barb
          Ha Ha . I bet the retail store you own is the Cigar Bar!!! (and it stinks)
          • Bad Info
            The strip center does not smell of cigar smoke. You are telling a lie. Nor does any of the other stores smell of smoke. I own one of the retail shops, and have never experienced anything like that. The Cigar Bar is very busy, however it has added business in the strip mall. You are just against people who choose to smoke.
            • PASS THIS
              AGREED WITH YOU KATHY!!!! I work at Sunrise and we receive complaints VERY often.
              • PASS THIS
                FOR GODS SAKE PLLLEEEEAAASSSEEE PASS THIS.
                • relpy to Canine
                  You don't need The police dogs. Take a walk through this mentioned Strip Mall and not only is there smoke billowing out of the joint, come summer summer time they are at outdoor tables smoking up the whole center and its so over whelming. You can stay out of the place but you can't run from the smoke that is going all directions of the place. Pretty bad when you stink I mean smell it all the at Maggie Moo's. They know it too that's why on any given summer day both front and back doors are open(for the entire center to enjoy) .
                • "Dogged to Death"
                  Yeah, right. Maybe we can have a special tobacco canine police division within the ISP that raids private homes like is being done in one asian country as of 1/1/11.
                  • pass it
                    PASS IT! How about when your walking in a center that has a smoking bar. Try walking into Pizza Hut on 82nd across from Fashion Mall and there entire store smell of cigar smoke. How about walking in the the new art /party store next store and my 6 year old is over come from Cigar Smoke outdoors, how about leaving the beauty/barber store and your hair and clothes all stink of cigars. Shut down or move to a field where the general public can walk around without walking through cloud's of cigar smoke. You don't think it but YOU STINK!! Ruth's Cafe is starting to smell like smoke. I will never go Verizon again because it stinks in there. All these business are hurting and so is the center. Notice how people keep moving out...cause it stinks of smoke inside and OUT!!! Why show we have to walking around the parking lot to avoid the smoke????? Have some respect for people who don't smoke. At least make them move to their own building and own parking lot. Have any of you lost a family member to second hand smoke??
                  • Be the World Class City We Purport to Be
                    Go Marcus - ditto what he said
                  • Let's get going
                    Hopefully this will be the year we can finally get this passed. To individuals who think this is a matter of personal freedom, are you also okay with me pouring my leather-tanning chemicals into your water suppply? Or perhaps I can dump my toxic medical waste into your backyard where your kids play?

                    No? Why not? Here's why: because there are some areas where personal freedom must take a backseat to the public welfare. We know that chemicals dumped on private property can disable and kill children throughout the local water table. We now know that the health effects of being near cigarette smoke is no different.

                    And unfortunately, smoke can find its way into the lungs of innocents whether they smoke or not. For example, part of this legislation would ban smoking within 12 feet of a door into a public place. Why? Because air coming into a building circulates, and the chemicals in that smoke can travel far beyond the smoker himself. Other locales have banned smoking near air intake channels into a building for the same reason.

                    The costs of public smoking are too high, and the infringement on personal freedoms too low, to allow this bill to die.
                  • Baby Steps.....
                    That's right, lets keep making baby steps towards taking away freedom from the american people. Baby steps are good because it doesnt seem so bad as doing it all at once. I am an Ex-smoker, but I still believe too many rights are being taken away as it is. If you just can't stand being around smoke, then don't go near it; but, good luck getting away from all of the other pollutants already in the air. Extremists are everywhere!
                  • Just get it done already...
                    Quit being behind the 8-ball Indy. Every state is doing this now, if you want to be seen as world-class you'll pass this bill. Lost gambling revenue..please. In all honesty, if you didn't build Lucas...you'd have revenue gains, about $800 million dollars in revenue gains. Stop making excuses about lost anything, when you'll be saving on health insurance premiums and have the potential for jobs being attracted here and not having to pay for unhealthy people.

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