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Casinos, bars seek smoking ban exemption

Publication Date: 1/13/2011
  • Author:JON SEIDEL
  • Publication:Gary (IN) Post-Tribune

A statewide smoking ban bill offered by Rep. Charlie Brown of Gary likely will be loaded with exemptions for casinos, bars and other businesses.

The bill got an early hearing in the House of Representatives' health committee Wednesday, but no vote was taken to send it to the House floor. Rep. Timothy Brown, R-Crawfordsville and committee chairman, said the committee will consider amendments and take a vote next week.

One likely amendment, he said, would add an exemption to the bill for casinos. A fiscal analyst for the state's Legislative Services Agency said a ban that includes casinos could cause a 10 percent decline in admission and 20 percent drop in gross gaming revenue, which would cut into the state's income.

After hearing that report, Charlie Brown said he's willing to go along with an exemption for a casino's entire footprint.

"There's no sense in fighting that," Brown, a Democrat, said.

He also said he'd consider an exemption for cigar bars, but not traditional bars.

"I just feel that all public places should be smoke free," Brown said.

Wednesday's hours-long hearing, interrupted briefly by a fire alarm, featured testimony about the hazards of secondhand smoke and the economic impact caused by smoking. The smoking ban proposal has support from Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.