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.
Indianapolis Republican Senator Mike Young 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,” Young says.
The bill’s Senate sponsor, Greenfield Republican Beverly Gard, says the ban cannot truly be called comprehensive because of all the exceptions.
“I can’t stand here today and tell you that the bill before you this afternoon is comprehensive smoking ban bill, because it’s not,” he says.
Blairsville Republican Senator Jim Tomes says he doesn’t buy the argument that the bill is about the right to clean air.
“I’ve got to believe that if we could see all of the elements, the 189 particles, emissions and contaminants and toxins in our air, that cigarette smoke would probably be the least of our concerns.”
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,” Brown says.
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.