Daniels wants few exemptions to Indiana smoking ban

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said Wednesday that he hopes legislators will send him a statewide smoking ban bill with a short list of exemptions.

Daniels has been backing the effort to put legal limits on smoking in public places and businesses, but declined to say whether he supported a push by some legislators to continue allowing smoking at bars.

"I'm willing to sign whatever bill the Legislature sends me," Daniels told reporters at the Statehouse. "I think we probably should keep the exceptions as narrow as possible in the interest of employees."

A state Senate committee is expected to take action next week on a House-approved bill that gives bars an 18-month exemption to the ban. That proposal would prohibit smoking in nearly all public places and businesses but still allow it at Indiana's 13 casinos, private clubs, retail tobacco stores, and cigar and hookah bars.

Daniels said he didn't want to rule anything out since he expected much give and take among legislators on the exemptions.

Anti-smoking advocates have said they will oppose efforts to extend the bar exemption past the September 2013 deadline currently in the bill. 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 after its chairman argued the provision was needed to win Senate passage.

Senate public policy committee Chairman Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, said last week he believed the current exemptions are needed for the bill to get through the Legislature before this year's session ends by mid-March. He said adding other exemptions — such as for nursing home residents — could be considered by the committee.

The Indiana House has approved statewide smoking limits six times in recent years, but the Senate has never voted on those proposals.

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