State smoke ban changes would allow smoking at casinos, a phase-in for bars
By Chelsea Schneider Kirk firstname.lastname@example.org January 27, 2012 12:30PM
New amendments to a proposed state-wide awbanning smoking in public places would exempt casinos. | Archive~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 29, 2012 8:04AM
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House exempted gaming facilities and added an 18-month transitional period for bars to a bill establishing a statewide smoking ban on Friday.
The original bill limited smoking to the gaming floor, but the amendment the House passed Friday exempts the entire footprint of the casino, including bars and other facilities on a casino’s property.
Casino representatives argued limiting smoking would hurt business and put them at a competitive disadvantage to out-of-state facilities without smoking bans.
“It’s not something necessarily that I’d like to see but I agreed to it,” said state Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, who is an author on the bill with state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary. “I think there is another day we can fight that battle to make Indiana totally smoke-free.”
The bill also now allows an 18-month transitional period for bars and taverns to adopt a smoke-free policy. Turner said the transitional period is a compromise on what he regards as the most controversial part of the bill.
Brown, who has continually pushed for a statewide smoking ban, said he supported the amendment. Moving a smoking ban through the Indiana General Assembly requires a delicate balance, Brown said. A statewide smoking ban has passed out of the House five times but continually died in the Senate.
“When you think about it, realistically bars are not going to be able to do this overnight,” Brown said. “It kind of makes sense. Here’s a warming, you have 18 months to get your house in order.”
The bill, which is eligible for a final reading in the House next week, also exempts cigar and hookah bars and fraternal, social and veterans organizations under certain conditions.