Indiana Campaign for Smokefree Airs Withdraws Support of House Bill 1149
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Campaign for Smokefree Air is withdrawing its support of House Bill 1149, which was intended to protect thousands of Hoosier workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke, but instead has become a weak piece of legislation that leaves far too many workers in danger.
Since its introduction, we have worked quietly in the background to keep the bill as strong as possible even as numerous exemptions were added. The Conference Committee report continues to exempt bars and taverns, and also allows some businesses to establish separate smoking areas, which have been proved to be ineffective. Those two provisions leave far too many Hoosiers unprotected.
Experience tells us that if HB 1149 becomes law in its current form, Hoosiers will be stuck with that law for at least five to seven years before lawmakers are willing to re-address the issue.
We are proud of the efforts of Reps. Eric Turner and Charlie Brown, who negotiated the bill through the House of Representatives, but we are very disappointed by those in the Senate who made a mockery of smokefree air and the legislation.
Twenty-nine other states have enacted strong smokefree laws that include all restaurants and bars, and they are much better off for it. Numerous studies have highlighted the positive effects of smokefree laws from both health and economic standpoints. The facts are that there are fewer heart attacks, lower healthcare costs and no drop in economic activity when smokefree laws are adopted.
It is hard to believe that the legislature continue to believe otherwise.
Hoosiers deserve, and indeed 70 percent want, a better smokefree law that includes bars and taverns. In our opinion, it is better to come back and fight for a strong smokefree law than to pass House Bill 1149 and leave so many Hoosier workers unprotected for many more years to come.