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  • Uebelhor

Pols need to step up on smoking ban


My View


February 10, 2010
Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, last week wimped out.

As leader of the majority GOP, Long controls the agenda in the Senate, and apparently a bill that would impose a statewide smoking ban in most restaurants and workplaces isn't important enough to be part of that agenda.

His excuse: Hoosiers aren't ready for such a ban.

If excuses like that could be packaged and sold, he'd make enough to get the state out of its financial troubles. Just a scoop or two would turn an acre of desert sand into lush Kentucky bluegrass.

The bill passed 73-26 a week ago Tuesday, receiving substantial bipartisan support in the 51-48 Democrat-controlled House.

Despite the House already having done the heavy lifting, Long can't bring himself to allow the members of his chamber to vote.

According to The (Louisville) Courier-Journal, 64 percent of Indiana residents favor banning smoking "in indoor public places, including workplaces, public buildings, offices, casinos, restaurants and bars."

Long said he is fearful that a smoking ban will hurt an economy that is already weakened. What about the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses?

The hypocrisy of government officials when it comes to tobacco is incredible. They talk about how bad it is, but then when they have the opportunity to take meaningful action, they punt.

Even the House legislation, although better than nothing, was too weak. The final version that passed had numerous exemptions, including bars, casinos, private clubs and tobacco businesses.

In the past, state lawmakers have turned a blind eye to bills that would have prohibited smoking in a vehicle with children younger than 13. A 17-year-old a week away from his 18th birthday can be cited for smoking, but it's perfectly legal for a 5-year-old to be sealed up in a smoke-filled car. And that's right how?

At least our universities and school corporations are getting things right, as more and more are prohibiting smoking on their grounds at any time, not just during school hours.

Tobacco is an evil that kills people. Hoosiers get that, as evidenced by the poll results. Hopefully, someday our lawmakers will, too.

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