It looks like Indiana will have a statewide smoking ban starting July 1st.
The smoking ban bill today survived a close vote in the Indiana State Senate and is now headed to the governor’s desk.
The final version of the bill does allow smoking to continue in bars and taverns. While that means it is not as strict as the local ban already in place in the City of Elkhart, at least the state ban will leave Elkhart’s local ban alone. Local governments will be free to impose restrictions that go above and beyond the state standards.
The statewide smoking ban also includes exemptions for fraternal clubs, casinos, and hookah bars, although the ban will apply to charity gaming, nursing homes and residential mental health facilities.
The main targets of the ban are family restaurants that allow patrons under the age of 21, and work places like offices and factories.
While some complained that the statewide ban had “too many” exemptions, today proved that the bill had “just enough” exemptions.
“But we can count and we knew that we had to have enough exemptions in this bill to satisfy 51 people in the house of representatives and 26 people in this senate,” said Sen. Vi Simpson, (D) Ellettsville.
In the end, the smoking ban picked up 28 votes in the senate. The list of supporters included Sen. John Broden, (D) South Bend, who admits the state-wide ban will have little, if any impact in his district. “I haven’t completely cross referenced the state ban with our local ordinance but quite frankly, they seem very, very similar to me.”
Still others on the senate floor warned that the bill was written so poorly, that it would end up going further than anyone intended.
“We’ve gone beyond, beyond a public smoking ban and we are banning smoking, in some cases, in the home,” said Sen. Mike Delph, (R) Carmel.
Sen. Delph was referring to the bill’s impact on home based businesses.
Those who expressed an unwillingness to move forward with a smoking ban today were challenged to take a step back. “There was a time in this chamber and in this building you could smoke, if you don’t want regulation, then let’s bring it back into this house and see how our employees feel about it,” said Sen. Greg Taylor, (D) Indianapolis.
While the smoking ban debate is over for now, it’s not over for good. Several lawmakers pledged to be back in the years to come to try and expand the ban.