IN statewide smoking ban sticking points

Mar 8, 2012

Lawmakers are working on a final draft of a statewide smoking ban,  but there are still significant issues to overcome and only a few days of session left.  Let's made some legislators admit it’s possible the ban won’t get passed this year.

State Representative Eric Turner (R-Cicero) is one of the ban’s House authors.  He says a total exemption for bars and taverns remains the biggest point of contention between the House and Senate.  But Turner says it’s not the only stumbling block. He’s concerned about a Senate amendment that would prevent local governments from passing tougher bans in the future.

“I’ve kind of said I’m not going to sign a conference committee report with preemption in it, because I don’t want to start down that path that takes anything away from locals to further regulate.”

House co-sponsor Charlie Brown (D-Gary) says there’s also the issue of whether the ban would require private clubs to have separate ventilation systems if they want to both allow smoking and allow children into the facility.  Ultimately, Brown says he’s not sure the ban will get passed this year.

“All things are possible, yes.  I mean, we’ve tried six years, what will seven do?”

The House passed a bill with exemptions for gaming facilities, cigar and hookah bars, tobacco shops and fraternal order clubs.  Bars and taverns were only exempted for the first 18 months.  The Senate added more, including a full exemption for bars, taverns and mental health and senior living facilities.

Turner says he remains confident a ban will get passed this session.