Smoking ban: a 'burned out' idea

Justin Law

The attempt to impose a no-smoking ban on the state of Indiana has cleared its first step in the Legislature. The Indiana House Public Health Committee voted 9-3 to endorse the bill making it illegal to smoke in public places and indoor worksites, but not before it exempted bars, fraternal clubs, nursing homes, horse racing tracks, and casinos.

It is said that banning smoking in gambling establishments will cost our state about $190 million per year, and that banning it in bars would be unfair. The bars would lose business and money as well. The exemptions for nursing homes and fraternal clubs were made after lawmakers said veterans and those living in nursing homes should have the right to smoke in designated areas.

Many lawmakers do not approve of these loopholes. They don’t believe that anyone should be exempt from the ban, and that it is unfair to allow it. They also think that our state is a bit on the slow side in making this decision. Many other states have beaten us to the punch on this one, putting the smoking ban in place well before we even got this far.

First of all, if a smoking ban is going to be imposed on Indiana, it is not fair to exempt certain businesses or people from this ban. Casinos and bars will be allowed to continue as usual, while small mom-and-pop taverns will not. They will lose business to larger bars because some people want to be able to have a cigarette while they drink or after their meal. What will be done to compensate these small tavern owners?

Probably nothing. We must think about everyone who will be affected by this and not only the businesses that will cost the state money. If lawmakers are so concerned about losing money, this ban should not even be considered. Either way, the state will lose money.

Moreover, why should I not be allowed to go into a bar and smoke because other people who go to that same bar might not smoke? If there are signs posted saying that a certain place allows smoking inside, then those who do not wish to be around smoke should not got there. There are plenty of places that do not allow smoking inside, far more than the ones that do allow it.

I feel as if this ban is imposing on our rights. If I want to go to a park and have a cigarette, why should I not be able to do so? It is the choice of the individual to smoke, just as it is the choice of the individual not to smoke. I do not think that banning smoking in outdoor public areas altogether is at all reasonable. However, creating designated public smoking areas is a great compromise. It will allow smokers to continue with their business while not bothering those who do not wish to be around secondhand smoke.

Many public amusement parks and zoos have put this policy in place, and it has been very successful.

Overall, I think that lawmakers need to take a step back from this smoking ban and look at the entire picture. Is it really reasonable to not allow smokers to smoke in public at all? The smoker chooses to smoke, and that is his own choice to make. The non-smoker chooses to go into a bar and be subjected to secondhand smoke, and that is also his own choice.

If this ban is put in place, there will be a lot of unhappy smokers in this state. It will not cause smokers to smoke less. It will only lessen the amount of smoking that they do in public, stress them out more while at work, and make them irritable. This is an idea that should have been burned out long ago.