South Bend Tribune: Opportune time for a statewide smoking ban

We would like to thank the South Bend Tribune for their support of a smoke-free Indiana. Last week, they took to their editorial page to support the current effort at the State House, urging the General Assembly to pass HB 1149 as is and to not water it down by exempting bars.

 

Thank you South Bend Tribune!

 

Opportune time for a statewide smoking ban

January 18, 2012

 

Here’s hoping the presence of the Super Bowl in Indianapolis this year is the impetus the General Assembly needs to pass a statewide smoking ban.

 

Big game or not, a comprehensive smoke-free state statute would be a win.

 

The overwhelming majority of Hoosiers support the idea. And there’s no arguing the evidence that secondhand tobacco smoke is a serious health hazard.

 

Currently, a hodgepodge of restrictions are in place in many Indiana cities and counties, including St. Joseph County. This makes enforcement difficult.

 

Advocates for a statewide ban were disappointed when a watered-down proposal failed to pass the legislature last year. Now they should be thankful. This session’s bill is tougher, prohibiting smoking in most public places and workplaces, including bars. It would allow smoking only on the gambling floors of casinos, fraternal and veterans clubs and cigar and hookah bars.

 

Its sponsors expect some legislators will try to add exemptions for bars will the bill is debated in the full House. Lawmakers shouldn’t let that happen. Nonsmokers who patronize a bar or work in one shouldn’t be put at risk either.

 

A study by the Michigan Department of Community Health released in November found that state’s 18-month-old ban had reduced air pollutants from secondhand smoke in restaurants by 93 percent.

 

In addition to Michigan, 26 other states now ban smoking in most public places.

 

More than a million Hoosier adults smoke and nearly 10,000 residents die annually from tobacco-related illness.

 

Those who choose not to use tobacco shouldn’t suffer because of secondhand exposure. A statewide smoking ban is necessary to help ensure they don’t.