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IN lawmakers again consider statewide smoking ban

Legislators are hoping a statewide smoking ban will finally get through the Indiana Senate by limiting exceptions to the rule in the 2012 version of the bill.

Only three entities would be exempt from the smoking ban: gaming floors; cigar or hookah bars currently in existence; and existing social clubs whose membership votes every two years to allow smoking. A statewide smoking ban has been passed out of the Indiana House for five consecutive years only to fail in the Senate. 

State Representative Eric Turner (R-Cicero) says this year's bill has the best chance of passage it’s ever had.

“I think the fact that the governor has included it as part of his agenda, leadership on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate have expressed their support, certainly helps that.”

In the past, bars and taverns argued exempting casinos gave them an unfair advantage.  If a person could smoke in a casino bar, regular bars would lose business.

State Representative Charlie Brown (D-Gary) says restricting the exemption only to the gaming floor will hopefully limit that concern.  He does not thinks anyone will lose business because of a statewide smoking ban.

“We think it’s just the opposite, that they may get more customers as a result of there being smoke-free air.”

State Representative Peggy Welch (D-Bloomington) says the ban’s benefits go beyond just the reduced health risk:

“We know this is a bill that’s going to save taxpayer dollars and is also going to promote economic development.”

The House Committee on Public Health will hold hearings on the measure, but no date has been set yet. You can see the proposal HERE.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.