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Smoking ban hits Indiana businesses

Smoking ban hits Indiana businesses
Smoking ban hits Indiana businesses
Becky Mills of Elizabeth smokes a Pyramid cigarette yesterday morning (Tuesday) at Waffle House in Corydon, just days before IndianaÂ’s new law that prohibits smoking in public buildings takes effect. Mills said people ought to have a choice whether they want to smoke in a restaurant or not. Photo by Ross Schulz (click for larger version)

Smoking or non-smoking?
That’s one question patrons of restaurants in Indiana won’t have to hear again beginning Sunday because of a new state law.
When Gov. Mitch Daniels signed new legislation for a Smoke Free Indiana in March, the public options for smokers were all but eliminated.
The law, which will officially go into effect July 1, prohibits smoking in public places, places of employment and government buildings, including offices and office buildings, restaurants, hotel and motel rooms, nursing homes, mental health facilities, bowling alleys, hospitals, retail stores, schools auditoriums, theaters and concert halls.
Many area restaurants, such as Cracker Barrel, had already went to full-non smoking, but others, such as Waffle House in Corydon, still have a smoking section, at least until Sunday.
‘I think it’s a bunch of crap,’ Corydon resident Lloyd Atwood said yesterday (Tuesday) at Waffle House. ‘Why can’t smokers have a choice?’
Atwood said nobody is twisting his arm to smoke and that he does it by his own free will.
‘Politics are getting involved,’ he said. ‘It’s communist to me.’
The new law won’t stop Atwood from returning to Waffle House.
‘They’ve got good coffee and good people,’ he said.
Another Waffle House patron, Becky Mills of Elizabeth, also said she believes patrons ought to have a choice about smoking.
‘Just because our governor ‘ or soon to be ex-governor ‘ doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean everybody doesn’t,’ she said.
Smoking will still be allowed in exempt places, including bars and taverns where patrons must be 21 to enter, casinos, riverboats, horse racing facilities, private clubs (if majority membership votes to approve and, if so, it must have a smoking room), cigars and hookah bars, cigar manufacturing facilities that do not have retail sales and businesses located in the owner’s private residence.
A local ordinance could be approved and implemented to require bars, taverns, private clubs and casinos to be smoke free, but it would have to be done by county officials above and beyond the new state law.
Penalty for violation is a Class B infraction. After three violations, it becomes a Class A infraction. The maximum fine is $10,000.
The law will be enforced by the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, the state Department of Health, local health departments, health and hospital corporations, the division of fire and building safety within the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement officers.
Danese Pease, area outreach coordinator for the Harrison County Tobacco Prevention Consortium, said most people don’t realize the law affects all employers and organizations with public spaces.
‘In other words, every business must understand how the law applies to them and post compliant signage denoting whether they allow smoking or prohibit it,’ she said.
Signs are required at all public entrances of enclosed public places and places of employment. Signs must read ‘State Law Prohibits Smoking within 8 Feet of this Entrance.’
Signs can be printed and picked up for free at Corydon Instant Print, 117 W. Walnut St., behind The Corydon Democrat office.
If an exempt business chooses to allow smoking, it must post conspicuous signs warning that they allow smoking.
The HCTPC will meet Monday at the Harrison County Health Department office at 2 p.m. for area businesses that have questions regarding compliance for the new law. A limited number of free door signs will be handed out to attendees.
According to Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana has the country’s fifth highest smoking rate and it costs the state billions in health care costs.
The Chamber, which supported the new smoking legislation, lobbied for a more comprehensive ban that covered all workplaces and public places but ended up supporting the final legislation with a few exemptions that Brinegar said will likely disappear in coming years.
‘It covers 95 percent of the workplaces in Indiana, including restaurants,’ he said. ‘That’s significant.’
Earlier this month, Ball State University’s Global Health Institute released a report that said Indiana’s smoking habit is costing the state’s employers nearly $2.6 billion in productivity losses and $2.2 billion in health care costs each year.
Other smoking facts and figures from the report include:
‘About 23.3 percent of males are currently smoking as compared to 19.3 of females.
‘Adults older than 65 have the lowest smoking rate, at 8 percent, as compared to adults 18 to 24 years old at 21.2 percent, 25 to 44 years old at 26.1 percent and 45 to 64 years old at 22.6 percent.
‘About 30.1 percent of African-American adults regularly smoke as compared to 20.6 percent of white adults and 16.8 percent of Hispanic adults.
‘Smoking rates decrease as income increases. Smokers make up 29.4 percent with household incomes of less than $15,000, 30.9 percent with household incomes of $15,000 to $24,999, 24.2 percent with household incomes of $25,000 to $49,999, 16.6 percent with household incomes of $50,000 to $74,999, and 11.1 percent with household incomes of more than $75,000.
‘Smoking rates also decrease as education levels increase. About 35.1 percent with less than a high school education are smokers as compared to 25.3 percent of adults with a high school education, 24.8 percent with some college education and 8.9 percent with a college education.
For more information about the new law, or if a business needs help implementing new policies for compliance, call the Harrison County Tobacco Prevention Consortium at 1-800-276-9773 or 1-812-338-5022 or send an e-mail to [email protected]