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Statewide smoking ban making progress

The Indiana Senate passed a statewide smoking ban Wednesday.  However, lawmakers still have work to be done before the bill can reach the governor.

The House has passed the ban six consecutive years, but Wednesday marked the first time it even got a vote in the Senate.  Opponents of the bill say it violates property rights and individual freedoms.

State Senator Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) says the smoking ban is government intrusion into business and he worries about the precedent it sets.

“But the next day it will be in your vehicle, it will be in your home and they will tell us what to do in every aspect of our lives.”

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Beverly Gard (R-Greenfield), says the ban cannot truly be called comprehensive because of all the exceptions.  Smoking would be permitted in gaming facilities, cigar and hookah bars, tobacco shops, bars, taverns, senior centers and social clubs that allow children into their facilities. The bill is now headed to conference committee, where further changes could be made.

Gary Democratic Representative Charlie Brown, one of the House authors, says he wants to limit the exemptions – particularly for bars and taverns – but says legislators will need help doing it.

“We’re going to have to rely heavily on the governor.  The governor has got to get more active in this whole thing if, in fact, he has a keen interest in public policy on smoke-free air.”

Governor Daniels made a smoking ban part of his legislative agenda and has said he’d prefer a ban with as few exemptions as possible.

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.