Statewide smoking ban passes House

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Even if Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard follows through on a threat to veto the tougher citywide smoking ban City-County Council members passed Monday, a similar measure making its way through the General Assembly would prohibit lighting up in most public places statewide.

State representatives voted 61-34 Tuesday to pass House Bill 1149, sending the legislation to the opposite chamber—where Senate President Pro Tem David Long has promised full debate.

The House has approved a statewide smoking ban at least five times in recent years, but those measures died before a Senate vote.

Like the city’s Proposal 18, the state legislation includes a provision that would require private clubs and fraternal organizations in Indiana to choose between allowing smoking on the premises or allowing patrons younger than 18 to enter.

Republican sponsor Rep. Eric Turner of Cicero said he is hopeful the bill has legs, given Long’s pledge to discuss the issue.

“We think we’ve found a sweet spot that minimizes the number of exemptions and maximizes the outcome,” Turner said.

House members added a provision that would delay the ban from taking effect in bars for 18 months; they also approved exemptions for casinos, cigar and hookah bars and retail tobacco stores.

But the bill is a tough one for not-for-profit organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which raises considerable amounts of money every year through family-oriented and children’s events, said Terry Bruning, state adjutant for the VFW, which has more than 100 posts within 100 miles of Indianapolis.

Each post throughout the state would be affected to a different degree, he said, making it difficult to predict the statewide financial impact. Many—but not all—VFW halls offer weekly $5-per-plate dinners that draw families, for example.

“At one post, it’s going to alter what they do every week,” Bruning said. “At another post, the impact may only be 10 events throughout the year.”

Turner said he thinks the legislation is reasonable and that each organization’s members should vote on which path to take.

“They just really have to decide whether they’re going to be a smoking facility or a facility that allows children,” he said. “They can’t be both.”

Lynne Arrowsmith, tobacco-cessation specialist for the Marion County Health Department, said making the choice is necessary from a health standpoint.

“Mixing children and smoking areas really is not a good idea,” Arrowsmith said. “In a choice between protecting children’s health and the members needing to go outside to smoke, we will always come down on the side of protecting the children’s health.”

Although each post is autonomous, Bruning said his guess is that most will choose kids over cigarettes.

“We’re doing the right things for the right reasons and we’ll continue doing so, only not while smoking a cigarette,” he said.

Indianapolis’ existing smoking ban forced Larry Griggers, owner of two local Ruth’s Chris Steakhouses, to make the same decision in 2006. He said his business was adversely affected when he chose to continue allowing children into his restaurants.

“I took a big hit on the business,” said Griggers, who supports a statewide smoking ban without any exemptions. “Smokers could go down the street to a competing restaurant that didn’t allow minors.”

Arrowsmith, who works with businesses in Marion County to implement no-smoking policies, said she thinks that private clubs could actually increase their membership by banning smoking.

“The younger group of veterans would like to bring their families to be included in activities,” she said. “[Allowing smoking] is a limiting factor because most people know the risks.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


  • generator
    NO honey that was the generators for all the extra bling and heat tents.
    the cessation campaign is doing a great job but, right you are they have to continue to increase the tax on cig to pay for all the good will campaigns. it almost banks on more people smoking. When if you see how many people do not smoke today versus ten years ago, come on these old farts will all be dead in ten years. we can avoid those bars that still allow it without instituting nazi rules on liberty.
  • Doesn't really matter
    Even if the bars won't allow smoking, you can get killed on the street by 2nd hand smoke. I was downtown Saturday and about gagged every few feet from someone's smoke. If the smoker's don't pay the taxes, who will?
  • Slow socialism
    Are you really concerned about the pole dancer breathing second hand smoke. Or do you just want to control everyone? I know of no employers that force anyone to work in a smoking environment (except taverns) Really the employees at taverns that is about it. Employees make choices between their well being and the job for any position. Just be honest with people, it is about control. The nanny state forced upon the ignorant people of the state. Because we all know smoking is harmful and the fools are too stupid to quit. and the the rest of us must be too stupid not to walk into a place that allows smoking if we do not like it.
    Look it is just another step toward total rule, or are you too stupid to see it.
  • where is my rights
    the state sets the price of cigs so they can keep taxes high-ask any store who sets the cig prices.now you want to take my right to smoke away unless i smoke outside
    tax the hell out of me on cigs then demand i go outside to smoke.i thought this was america land of the free not a dictatorship where a few self rightiuos blow hards to me what my rights are you work for the people not us working for you we chose not a few self centered selfrightiuos buerocrats
    stop bleeding us dry with taxes on something you wont let us decide on
  • smoking
    I fing it very hypocritical for all those that they say we shouldnt smoke in front of kids or public places but its ok to drik!!!!!!!!!!!
    Please stop tell us what is good for us
  • MaryJane
    Be interesting to see what happens to this law when marijuana is legalized---which it basically is,in California, and the rest of the country always follows California by a decade or so.

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