Indianapolis—Wednesday, the Indiana Senate Public Policy Committee failed to pass House Bill 1018, a bill that would ban smoking in public places (with exemptions for bars and taverns) failed to pass. Committee Chair Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) refused to hear amendents that would have put bars and taverns back in the bill.
"We are not giving up. We know that smokefree air is the only way to protect workers from exposure to secondhand smoke, and we will continue to fight for a strong, smokefree air bill that protects employees of bars, taverns and restaurants workers who deserve the same protections as those in office buildings, schools and other smokefree environments," said Danielle Patterson, chair of the Indiana Campaign for Smokefree Air in a statement.
The bill had to move out of committee in order to keep it alive.
There has been a lot of heated debate over whether to exclude bars and taverns. Tuesday, nearly 200 demonstrators descended on the Indiana Statehouse in support of the bill as it reads now. The rally participants were volunteers with the American Cancer Society. They support smoke-free legislation that includes bars and taverns. Health advocates say a comprehensive ban would protect all workers who may be employed in businesses that allow smoking, from second-hand smoke. Critics worry casinos and bars would lose big business.
Fox59 News spoke with a man who knows the deadly dangers of second-hand smoke personally:
"I never smoked a cigarette in my life but at age 50 I got stage four throat cancer, carcinoma from secondhand smoke in the workplace," said Michael Kelley.
"No one in the state should have to choose... even if you work in a bar, [no one] should never have to choose between their health and their job. You have a right to work in a healthy workplace and our lawmakers have a responsibility to provide for the public health," Kelley added.
The bill cleared the House in January. Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Indiana) had said he would sign the bill into law if it comes across his desk.