Smoking bans in Indiana

October 26, 2009
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Smoking bans in bars and restaurants always create a spirited debate between smokers and nonsmokers. Every time a city or county in Indiana moves to ban smoking in these establishments, people pipe up with their opinions.

Marion County may be the next one to expand its current smoking ban. The full City-County Council votes tonight on the issue. Currently, Monroe County, Greencastle, Zionsville, Plainfield, and a handful of other places ban smoking in bars and restaurants. Most cities and counties with bans exempt bars and restaurants, as is the case in Indianapolis if the restaurant admits only those older than 21.

What I always found odd about the legislation was that smoking is always banned in the workplace, but people work in restaurants and bars. Why should those establishments not count?

Should smoking laws and ordinances continue to be a piecemeal ban around the state, with some cities allowing smoking in bars and not in other cities? Would it be easier for residents and easier to regulate if we had blanket statewide legislation?

One co-worker referred to this type of regulation as morality legislation. Should it be up to city or county officials, or even the state, to tell businesses they can or can’t permit smoking or regulate where smokers are allowed to light up? Proponents of these bans argue nonsmokers don’t have to go to bars or restaurants that allow smoking, or people don’t have to work in these establishments. That’s true, but bartending or being a server in a bar instead of a restaurant has to be more profitable. Plus, at least in Indianapolis, I’m aware of only a few bars that don’t allow smoking.
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