The Indiana Senate is expected to take up a proposed statewide smoking ban this week. For the first time in six years, a House-passed smoking ban has advanced past the Senate committee level.
The Public Policy Committee voted 8-2 last week for the measure after hearing some four hours of public testimony.
Indianapolis-area tavern owner Wanda Goodpastor told the panel a ban would harm her business, as 80-percent of her customers are smokers.
"We have ‘a smoking establishment’ on our door. If a person doesn’t want to come into a smoking establishment, then they shouldn’t come in," Goodpastor said. "They have a choice. If this law passes, the smoker is not going to have a choice."
Mara Hoberty’s mother testified in favor of a smoking ban at a hearing last year, but has since died from lung cancer. Hoberty says her mother got sick after breathing second-hand smoke for years in her workplaces.
"My mom is now a statistic. Forever and indelibly, she is one of the 1,100 non- smoking Hoosiers to lose her life last year to this horrible yet totally preventable disease," said Hoberty.
The current measure would allow exemptions for casinos, private clubs, hookah bars and retail tobacco stores. Bars and taverns would be given 18 months to go smoke-free. Supporters say it’s the best compromise to help protect people from second-hand smoke.
The chairman of the Senate committee expects more exemptions will be proposed on the Senate floor.