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Indiana Senate approves diluted state smoking ban

Publication Date: 2/29/2012
  • Author:AP
  • Publication:ibj.com

For all the bluster a statewide smoking ban sparked at the beginning of the 2012 legislative session, the version Indiana lawmakers may end up approving seems little more than a wisp of smoke.

The Senate approved a statewide ban Wednesday for the first time in its history, with 13 Democrats joining 16 Republicans for a 29-21 vote. But the proposal passed hardly resembles the one the House has approved six times in recent years.

"The bill has so many exemptions it's unacceptable," said Amanda Estridge, Indiana lobbyist for the American Cancer Society, which has opposed smoking bans in the past for not covering enough businesses.

Senators added exemptions for bars, charity gambling operations, veterans' homes and nursing homes. They also expanded exemptions the House had added for private clubs, such as the VFW and American Legion, and the state's gambling industry, which would be protected statewide from local restrictions.

By the end of the exercise, Senate supporters said the "horrible bill" was the best they could do and will seek to salvage it in final negotiations with House lawmakers.

Indiana's legislative leaders have said they plan to end the 2012 session March 9, which gives negotiators just over a week to come up with a compromise...