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1/9/2012 11:55:00 AM
EDITORIAL: This may finally be the year for Indiana to pass smoking ban

Evansville Courier & Press

Indiana lawmakers are flirting once again with enacting a ban on smoking in most public places throughout the state; indeed, supporters say they may have found the right combination of exemptions to finally put it over the top.

We share their hope if not their optimism.

The proposal, introduced last week, would ban smoking at bars, but would allow it on the gambling floors of casinos, at private clubs, and at cigar and hookah bars.

Last year's bill included bars among those facilities that would have been granted exemptions, and the measure still did not pass.

This fight has gone on for years at the legislature, with the Indiana House approving statewide smoking limits five different times, only to see each of those measures languish in the Indiana Senate.

From a local standpoint, the success of the statewide bill this year would help resolve the issue in Evansville, which has an unusual smoking-ban ordinance. Vanderburgh County has a public smoking ordinance that bans smoking in most public places, including bars and restaurants. However, the city of Evansville, located entirely within Vanderburgh County, has a separate smoking ordinance, one that grants an exemption to bars that have separate nonsmoking rooms.

Despite efforts by anti-smoking forces to convince the Evansville City Council to end the bar exemption, the council has declined thus far. Of council members opposed in the past, some say it is unfair to grant an exemption to casinos, while others maintain it should be a decision left to the owners of bars. It is unclear, now, with four new City Council members, how the question would play out, should it be put to a vote this year.

But now, that may no longer be necessary, if state lawmakers step up and ban smoking in public places statewide.

Legislative supporters of the proposed state smoking ban believe that by limiting casino smoking only to gambling rooms, it may help their cause. Presumably, that means smoking would not be allowed in the bars that are a part of casino complexes, but not on the gambling floors.

Some lawmakers, as well as Gov. Mitch Daniels, would like to see the legislature pass this bill before the Super Bowl football game and thousands of visitors come to Indianapolis on Feb. 5. It would look good to visitors to see Indiana as a state that takes the health of its citizens as well as visitors seriously.

That works for us. Indiana long had an image of a place where people eat too much, exercise too little, and smoke too much. That is probably no longer a fair characterization, yet it is difficult to debate when smoking is still permitted in so many public places.

It is time to pass this ban.

Related Stories:
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• EDITORIAL: Let the consumers decide about smoking
• Statewide smoking ban bill to be heard Monday by Indiana House committee
• EDITORIAL: Clear the air with new smoking ban
• EDITORIAL: Super Bowl spurs ban on smoking
• Smoking ban close to winning House committee approval
• Smoking bans rising among private companies in effort to curtail health costs
• State smoke ban changes would allow smoking at casinos, a phase-in for bars
• EDITORIAL: Indiana smoking ban should be evenhanded
• State smoking ban passed by Indiana House, awaits Senate approval
• EDITORIAL: Smoke ban offers bars opportunity

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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