Thursday, March 24, 2011

HB 1018 Update

Yesterday, the Senate Public Policy Committee heard several hours of testimony both for and against HB 1018, the smokefree air bill. Unfortunately, not a lot of progress happened at the hearing with no real consensus being made by the members of the committee. They will be meeting again next week to decide on removing the exemptions for bars, membership clubs, casinos, nursing homes and/or tobacco stores. They could also decide to add in more exemptions that would exclude even more workplaces in Indiana, further exposing workers to the harmful chemicals in secondhand smoke.

During the hearing there was very moving testimony given by Alice Curry of Columbus, who has stage four lung cancer even though she never smoked, but she did work in smokey environments. She pleaded with the committee to not let another worker in Indiana experience what she is going through by passing a comprehensive smokefree air law. Though it appears that members of the committee may very well turn a deaf ear to her pleas and either not pass a comprehensive bill and or pass one that is so watered down that it proves to be useless.

We are surrounded by smokefree states, and every year more and more states are going smoke free in all businesses including restaurants and bars. How is it that Indiana is so far behind on this issue? Do we really need to be last on everything? The fact that the room yesterday was littered by tobacco and casino lobbyist may tip the hat as to why Indiana can't pass a good public health bill that will save lives and money and is instead budding up to special interests.

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