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UPDATE: Indiana Senate approves diluted state smoking ban

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The Indiana Senate on Wednesday passed a diluted version of a statewide ban on smoking in public places in hopes that lawmakers can forge a stronger ban in a conference committee with House lawmakers who've passed a more restrictive version of the bill.

The Senate voted 29-21 in favor of the bill a day after lawmakers amended it to exempt bars and taverns. Owners of those establishments had complained to a Senate panel that their customers would flock to casinos and private clubs not covered by the ban.

The vote marks the first time a statewide smoking ban has cleared the Senate. The Indiana House has approved statewide smoking limits six times in recent years, but the Senate had never voted on those proposals until this year.

Gov. Mitch Daniels included a statewide smoking ban in his final legislative agenda before he leaves office, and Senate lawmakers said it was time for the issue to get a vote.

As in previous years, arguments over exemptions have threatened to trip up the measure. Several senators testifying before Wednesday's vote said they were no longer sure what the bill stood for because so many exemptions had been added.

Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson, who has called the Senate version a "horrible bill," said the proposed ban was a health issue.

"When I'm around somebody who smokes, I have to breathe that air. ... It's shared air. And we know the effects of secondhand smoke," she said.

Sen. President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, stressed that the measure voted on Wednesday was not the final version of the ban but said he thought it contained the right exceptions and protections.

Long said he felt strongly that people ought to be able to work in a smoke-free environment but also wanted to see smoking allowed in bars, noting that only adults are allowed to enter, and adults have a choice about being exposed to smoke that children don't.

The plan approved by the House exempted casinos, private clubs, cigar and hookah bars and retail tobacco stores. It gave bars an 18-month reprieve before the measure would kick in.

The Senate version adds more time for cigar and tobacco stores to open before the ban would kick in, trimmed the space outside public buildings that would be smoke-free from 12 feet to 8 feet and exempted veterans' homes and nursing homes from the ban.

In addition to exempting bars, the Senate version allows smoking at charitable gambling operations and expands other carve-outs already added by House lawmakers.

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  • smoking ban
    I got a great idea, since they water the bill down, let just forget it until another time. Why pass a bill which does not do anyone any good. That will solve the debate.
  • business rights
    Do not like smoking dont go into a tavern, or go to the ones that do not allow it. Ok that is fine. But the problem is when the owner of the lawn mower shop has now become a criminal to smoke in his own business. It is not the science people it is the right to decide for yourselfs. Let these places that maintain smoking die from lack of business and lack of patrons, and their own vice. I just choose not to patronize those places because that is my right.
  • Non Non-Smoking Bill
    Cowards.
  • Indiana Get with the Times
    It is truely sad that as progressive as Indiana has become over the years that our Indiana House and Senate law makers cannot do the right thing and passing a law to bans smoking in public. All the research shows that it has a positive impact on the business. An example is the Slippery Noodle, they inacted a no smoking policy and it has a positive impact on thier business. We as a state need to do the right thing and pass a law that does not exempt any location.
  • Fix It
    Pass a frickin' non-smoking bill that actually has an impact, you idiots. Other states have done it (at least Wisconsin and Michigan) and I realize that Indiana has a lower IQ than those states, but come on...
  • And again
    What a good point they make... The majority of the public spends their time relaxing at the local lawnmower shop.

    Look guys, this is nothing more than lip-service. If you want to weakly recommend a non-smoking state, just kill it all together instead of fumbling up our state contistution. I'll make sure my vote next election goes to a candidate who is an advocate of the 80% and not the 20%.
  • Indiana Is So Lame
    Why have we spent time legislating Creationism in our schools yet not protecting the public from Second Hand Smoke? Is there no one that believes in science any more?! This is ridiculous. New York and California have had laws in place for decades now. Even our neighbor to the west, Illinois, has something in place. Studies have shown that bars actually see an modest increase in business as smokers still come (and smoke outside), but the business then opens up to non-smokers that wouldn't have otherwise come. Indiana is among the worst states in the nation for air quality. We have high incidences of cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Let's at least tackle the smoking to give our children room to breathe and lower their incidence of lung cancer.

    This is a no brainer and yet Indiana still finds a way to fumble at the one yard line. Pass the bill now before we are (embarrassingly) the only state left that doesn't have a statewide public smoking ban in place. This state is so backwards sometimes...

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