Thursday, January 19, 2012

Editorial: Smoke ban's inevitable state march

Journal and Courier :: January 19th, 2012

Here in Greater Lafayette, we've been through the smoking regulation debate twice.

Each city waded through similar health findings, hard science, anecdotal evidence and free market rhetoric to come up with guidelines all their own. And from what we can see, the two sets of rules - West Lafayette with the stricter ordinance, Lafayette with looser rules that add exemptions for businesses that cater to the over-21 crowd - seem to be working the way they were intended.

So watching, for the fifth or sixth time, the Indiana General Assembly debate the same set of indoor, workplace smoking regulations has a certain redundant feel, for sure.

The stated aim this year by advocates of a uniform, statewide law is to cover Indiana with a single blanket, as opposed to the patchwork of ordinances in place now. And that includes in Tippecanoe County, where different rules apply, depending on whether you visit a business in Lafayette, West Lafayette or just outside those city limits.

The added benefits, advocates say: Smoking rules would give the state a more progressive feel. And, if done quickly enough, the law would toughen the rules in place for Indianapolis in time for the Super Bowl on Feb. 5, when visitors from around the world will be in the state.

Here's the plea from those pushing hardest for House Bill 1149 - if the General Assembly can get past a right-to-work fight that ground the session to a halt again Wednesday: Tie it to the Super Bowl or don't, there's a compromised deal on the table. Go with it.

The compromise in House Bill 1149 is a shortened list of exemptions, banning smoking in all indoor workplaces except casino gaming floors, existing cigar and hookah bars and private clubs whose memberships vote to approve smoking.

Our stance in the past has been that while we would prefer people didn't smoke, smoking bans are best left to local and county jurisdictions, not the state.

Still, we've been worn down over countless debates and are willing to compromise a bit, too, and concede that the time for uniform guidelines has come for Indiana.

Track the bill

To read and track the progress of House Bill 1149's proposed smoking regulations for the state, go to go to

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