INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Previous proposals for a statewide smoking ban in Indiana are running on fumes, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Earlier this week, Indiana€™s Senate "gutted" the proposed ban, providing exemptions for bars, bingo halls, mental-health facilities, and nursing homes. The Senate was scheduled to vote on the proposal yesterday.
If the revised proposal passes, Rep. Eric Turner, author of the bill, said he would refuse the changes, which would set the stage for a House-Senate committee, where a final version would be negotiated.
"They put a lot of exemptions on it," Turner said. "It might be easier to write a bill that just lists the places where you can smoke."
Turner hasn€™t said which exemptions should be excluded, only that the ban needs to strengthened. The bill€™s co-author, Rep. Charlie Brown, agrees and remains hopeful a compromise can be reached.
"When you consider this is the very first time that it's been on the Senate floor, this was to be expected," Brown said. "The same thing happened in the House the first time out."
Indiana€™s House approved a ban the previous five years, though each year the bill died in the Senate.
Sen. Jean Leising led a charge to weaken the ban, maintaining that smoking is an individual choice.
She urged lawmakers to pass even more exemptions, including one to allow smoking in privately owned outdoor areas, such as restaurant patios.
"I'm worried about the business owners," she said, adding, "Remember, this is a legal product we are dealing with."