Photo: Duncan Blair (Flickr)
A statewide smoking ban’s fate now lies in the Indiana Senate, where it has never passed out of committee. While hopes for its passage are bright, there are still significant obstacles to overcome.
The smoking ban passed the House the last five years, but never got so much as a committee hearing in the Senate until last year. One of the key compromises in this year’s version is an 18-month exemption for bars and taverns.
Danielle Patterson is the co-chair of the Indiana Campaign for Smokefree Air. She says that 18-month window gives the General Assembly a chance to revisit the idea during a later legislative session and exempt bars and taverns permanently.
“We would like this to be done ideally before that so that, you know, this can go into effect,” Patterson says. “We have a supportive governor right now. We don’t know what the next governor will do It’s just best to go ahead and get this done this year.”
Lafayette Republican Senator Ron Alting is the chair of the committee that will hear the smoking ban bill. He says the Smokefree Indiana coalition is asking for too much.
“They have never been happy with any bill that’s come out, so, you know, I’m not surprised or shocked or anything else that they’re not happy with this,” he says.
Alting says he will not support lowering the 18-month phase-in period for bars and taverns. He says he does not foresee the Senate making any significant changes to the bill.