Indiana passes statewide smoking ban, exempts bars

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 09, 2012 8:19 PM
Indiana passes statewide smoking ban, exempts bars

By Susan Guyett

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - The Indiana Assembly has passed a statewide smoking ban that prohibits lighting up in most public spaces and workplaces but exempts bars and casinos, and the measure now heads to Governor Mitch Daniels' desk for signature.

The state Senate passed the compromise bill on Friday by a vote of 28-22. The House of Representatives approved the bill on Thursday 60-33.

Daniels, who made a smoking bill part of his legislative agenda, was expected to sign the legislation. The measure would go into effect July 1. At least half of all U.S. states have already banned smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars, and more states have placed lesser restrictions on smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

State Representative Eric Turner, a Republican who authored a more restrictive bill, said he was satisfied with the compromise but said, "It's not everything I wanted."

"This is one of those issues where the public is way ahead of the lawmakers," said Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, a Democrat, adding that customers want smoke-free environments. The exemptions in the bill were necessary to allow passage.

"We can count and needed enough votes to pass," she said.

Republican State Senator Jean Leising, a nurse, was against the bill, calling it a terrible infringement upon individual rights. She lamented that smoking would no longer be permitted at her church bingo games, which provided a smoking and non-smoking section. The bill bars smoking at charity gaming events.

(Reporting By Susan Guyett; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Cynthia Johnston)