The full Indiana Senate is expected to consider a proposed statewide smoking ban this week.
The House has passed various smoking bans for the past six years, but this is the first such bill to make it past the Senate committee level.
The Senate’s Public Policy Committee advanced the bill last week after some four hours of public testimony. Lawmakers heard from bar owners and other opponents who say a smoking ban would hurt their business.
They also heard from people who say a ban is needed to protect workers and others from second-hand smoke.
Mara Hoberty’s mother testified in favor of a smoking ban at a hearing last year, but has since died from lung cancer. Hoberty says her mother got sick after breathing second-hand smoke for years in her workplaces.
“My mom is now a statistic. Forever and indelibly, she is one of the 11-hunded non-smoking Hoosiers to lose her life last year to this horrible yet totally preventable disease,” she said.
The current bill contains exemptions for casinos, private clubs, hookah bars and tobacco stores. Bars and taverns would have to go smoke-free within 18 months.
Supporters say the exemptions give the bill its best chance for winning passage.