Lawmaker Seeks To Expand Statewide Smoking Ban To Casinos

Jan 6, 2015

Credit Laura Chimera

Legislators will seek to broaden Indiana‘s three-year-old smoking ban in the upcoming legislative session that kicks off today.

The smoke-free law includes two big exceptions, for bars and casinos, which sparked heated debate when it was passed.

A bill House Public Health Chairman Ed Clere, R-New Albany, is authoring leaves intact the exemption for bars but would extend the ban to casinos. He reasons that a server who does not want to inhale smoke on the job can find a comparable job relatively easily, but a dealer at a casino would face a significant pay cut.

In past sessions, the General Assembly‘s research arm has calculated a casino smoking ban could cost the state nearly $200 million a year. Clere argues the cost would be offset over the long term by reduced health costs.

“The overarching theme of this legislation is a need to address tobacco prevention and cessation as a key component for improving Indiana’s overall health status,” Clere says.

Clere notes that Indiana casinos have been competing with new Ohio casinos that have opened in recent years, and Ohio’s casinos are smoke free.

Clere‘s bill would also ban pharmacies from selling cigarettes elsewhere in the store. CVS decided on its own last year to take cigarettes off its shelves.

The proposals will be folded into the same bill with proposals unveiled by Attorney General Greg Zoeller last week to subject e-cigarettes to the same taxes and regulations as traditional tobacco. Clere is not speculating on which provisions have enough support to become law, but says it is important to begin the conversation.