Feb 3, 2010

Weak smoking bill stills leaves Indiana in the ‘Dirty Dozen’

It appears Indiana may be close to breaking up the “Dirty Dozen” of states that have no workplace smoking ban after the Indiana House passed a weak bill yesterday.

Indiana is one of only 12 states without a workplace smoking ban after Michigan passed a workplace smoking bill that bans smoking in bars and restaurants in December, but the ban the Indiana House passed does not offer people much protection from deadly secondhand smoke.

House Bill 1131 passed 73-26 on Tuesday, but it exempts bars, private clubs, casinos and tobacco businesses. It was so watered down and weakened that the bill’s sponsor- Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, - had trouble supporting it. The original bill would have banned smoking in all public places — including bars, restaurants and retailers. Only casinos and horse tracks would have been exempted. But, anything is better than nothing, and when Indiana finds out what everyone else knows, that a smoking ban does not hurt business, they can go back and get it done correctly and pass a comprehensive ban.

There is hope the Indiana Senate will do the right thing and take out the exceptions. We have all heard the false argument that it will hurt business, even though there is no credible study that proves that or have we heard an explanation on how less than 25 percent of the population can have so much effect on the economy, but there is no doubt that secondhand smoke is deadly.

In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General has issued two reports 20 years apart that says there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke, backed up by the EPA and numerous peer reviewed studies.
The fact is the positive health effects after a ban goes into effect are almost immediate.

But Rep. Matt Bell, R-Avilla, “said the evidence on secondhand smoke isn’t as compelling as many think.”

Is he serious?

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