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Smoking Ban Battle Lines Drawn Over Bars

Last updated on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

(STATEHOUSE) - The smoking-ban battle lines are drawn over taverns.

A day before a senate committee vote, about 100 American Cancer Society volunteers rallied at the statehouse to talk to legislators one-on-one, and to serve notice they won't accept the argument the ban can't pass without exempting bars.

Alice Curry of Columbus, who's battling lung cancer, says most white-collar workplaces are smoke-free already.

Curry and throat cancer survivor Michael Kelley of Muncie are both lifelong nonsmokers who believe secondhand smoke in smoke-filled workplaces caused their illnesses.

Kelley vows to fight for the bill "to my last breath" to protect the health of future generations.

39 states have some form of statewide smoking ban.

Depending on definitions, between 24 and 29 of those bans are comprehensive.

The bill passed by the house also exempts casinos and nursing homes, but the cancer society has zeroed in on the bar exemption as indefensible.

They contend bars would gain, not lose, business if a ban were enacted.

And they argue that even if bar owners' concerns about lost customers are correct, workers with few other options should not be forced to choose between their health or their job.

The 10-member Senate Public Policy Committee, Chaired by Sen. Ron Alting has taken the unusual step of announcing it will not consider amendments before voting.

Any senator could introduce amendments if the bill reaches the floor.

The house voted 56-33 to exempt bars before voting 68-31 in favor of the amended bill.

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