A statewide smoking ban that included all indoor spaces except gambling facilities appeared to have been killed Monday by the Indiana House.
State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, withdrew the legislation after two amendments were narrowly approved. The changes would have exempted bars, restaurants and tobacco shops from the smoking ban.
“The mere fact that one exempting restaurants got in, that’s a biggie, that is the big one,” Brown said. “It was going downhill after that one.”
The House voted 52-48 to exclude restaurants and bars from the ban. In a second roll call, the House voted 54-38 to also exempt tobacco shops. Brown withdrew the legislation after the second amendment was approved.
“This is beyond the pale. How can we continue to say we should not be concerned about the health of fellow Hoosiers?” Brown said. “People don’t need a job if they’re not healthy. People don’t need anything if they’re not healthy.”
Those exemptions were among 15 proposed amendments carving out exclusions for other businesses.
“The thought process of these folks here saying that I don’t want to do harm to my business in my community is bizarre,” Brown said. “It’s disheartening.”
He said Fort Wayne and Bloomington, two cities that have enacted local smoking bans, have had increased business in bars and restaurants since their bans went into effect.
Last year, the House approved a statewide smoking ban that contained exceptions for bars and casinos. The Senate never voted on that proposal.
Brown excluded casinos in his smoking ban measure this year to stop casinos from opposing the legislation. He vowed to add casinos to the smoking ban after it became law.
By withdrawing the legislation, Brown still can recall it for a vote at a later date. The two amendments already approved, however, still would be attached to the legislation.
Brown said he plans to “do a little soul searching” before deciding whether to try again.
For an update on Senator Brown’s continued efforts, read here.