The Senate Committee on Public Policy approved a bill Wednesday that would standardize smoking restrictions across the state. House Bill (HB) 1149 would implement a statewide smoking ban for most public places, including restaurants. The bill has received bipartisan support this legislative session, having been approved in the House of Representatives by a vote of 62-35 in January before coming to the Senate. The bill was approved in committee by a vote of 8-2.
As the legislation stands upon Wednesday’s committee approval, places exempt from the new statewide ban would include certain gaming facilities; cigar and hookah bars; tobacco stores; and fraternal, social and veterans clubs. Bars and taverns would have until Sept. 15, 2013, to comply with the ban.
“I am glad that the Senate is moving forward with a statewide smoking ban,” said State Senator John Broden. “I have some concerns about some of the exemptions in the legislation, but I will continue to support the ban as long as the bill allows for local laws to be more restrictive than state legislation.”
Under current law, counties, cities and towns may adopt their own ordinances to restrict smoking in public areas. This bill would establish a statewide restriction and provide that local governing bodies can enact their own ordinances only if they are more restrictive than the state law.
Since 2007 similar measures have failed three times to progress in the Indiana General Assembly. Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson says she hopes the new law will be enacted this legislative session.
“Although the bill is less comprehensive than we would have liked, it is a step closer to making public places safe and smoke-free for visitors and for the people who work there,” said Sen. Simpson. “I’m happy we have been able to work together to finally get this important legislation before the Senate for consideration.”
State Senator Tim Skinner shared his hopes for the ban.
“This bill is the result of a strong bipartisan effort to eliminate public health risks for the people of Indiana,” said Sen. Skinner. “I’m glad that we are one step closer to diminishing those risks and making public air cleaner and safer for all Hoosiers.”
The legislation now moves to the Senate floor where it can be amended by any senator. If enacted, the bill would become effective upon passage.