Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Politics of Smoking Bans or Some Advice for Smoke Free Indy

Smoke Free Indy, along with several other similar organizations, have been pushing for an expanded smoking ban in Indianapolis/Marion County and a state wide smoking ban in the state house. Personally, I thought the timing for their state smoking ban was odd. It comes after the state GOP made huge gains in both houses of the General Assembly, with 60 seats in the House and a quorum proof majority in the Senate. On top of that, many of the Republicans elected were supported by various Tea Party groups, and I just don't think most Tea Party people would support a state wide smoking ban.

To my surprise, the smoking ban has made it passed the House, and looks like it has a good chance of passing the Senate as well. However, it's progressed with amendments. It exempts bars, casinos, tobacco shops and legion halls.

But the proponents of the ban are having none of that. Yesterday, I received a press release from Smoke Free Indy saying they'll be holding an "emergency press conference" on Monday, March 28 at 10:30am at the Little Red Door Cancer Agency. They want the bill amended to remove these exemptions.

While I have mixed feelings on smoking bans, I do have strong feelings on smoke, and I do my best to reduce my exposure to smoky bars when I do go out with friends. We tend to go to bars and other places that aren't packed to the brim, so even if there are smokers, the smoke isn't overwhelming. Or we might go during the off-hours when there just aren't as many people there. And there's always smoke-free venues, like the wonderful Radio Radio in Fountain Square.

My advice to the proponents of this bill? You're lucky to be getting this ban at all. I'd take what you can get, and if you think you have the political capital at another time, than work on expanding it. Because right now, you're at risk of getting no smoking ban instead of a partial ban.


  1. Agreed. I don't understand the mentality if they only get 90% of what they want, that's not enough...the bill has to die. Isn't 90% better than nothing...which is what they're going to get if they insist on a 100% ban. And by getting the 90% ban, they can go back later and get it expanded.

    I just don't understand the mentality of the Smoke Free Indy group.

  2. I understand the mentality. It's time for Indiana to join most of the rest of the civilized world and ban public smoking in public places.

  3. I understand the intent as well. I cannot speak for Smoke Indy since I am not involved, but my perception is that this bill was going after bars. Bars, as Matt has pointed out, are the biggest offenders when it comes to polluting the air. The recent Big 10 tournament highlighted that this is indeed the top trouble point when Michigan State alum started complaining that they were assigned to a bar without a smoking ban.

    I understand why Smoke Free Indy is upset. Why even have a bill if it is going to exempt the people that they are going after? This bill isnt about the 90% low hanging fruit. Its about the sweetest 10%

  4. The reason they are pushing for the removal of the exemptions is because secondhand smoke is a public safety issue. All of the places currently exempted are the places where workers are most at risk. I don't think it's too much to ask our elected officials to make laws that protect 100% of the public instead of 90%.


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