“The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for general prosperity.” — Martin Van Buren
Once again members of the Indiana Legislature are promoting a statewide smoking ban on public venues and workplaces.
Leading the charge this time are Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, and Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington. Smoking bans already are in place in Bloomington.
The only exemptions to the proposed ban are for gambling floors of casinos and pari-mutuel betting parlors, private clubs and cigar bars.
If smoking is so dangerous it cannot be permitted in a restaurant or saloon, why tolerate it in a casino? The answer, of course, is obvious. The Legislative Services Agency calculated that banning smoking in gambling establishments would cost Indiana approximately $200 million a year in tax revenue.
It is difficult to interpret that exemption as anything other than blatantly self-serving.
Make no mistake. We comprehend smoking is unhealthy, a nasty habit with far-reaching and often fatal effects. However, smoking is not illegal.
We stand by our long established position to allow business owners and their customers to determine what they want. During the past few years several restaurant managers, following careful and thorough consultation with their patrons, have opted to ban tobacco from their premises.
We applaud those actions yet reiterate they should be their decisions to make.
Customers seldom are shy about expressing views. They do so verbally and, more significantly, with their pocketbooks.
While we support continued efforts to educate citizens on the very real dangers of tobacco abuse, we reaffirm our belief consumers, not lawmakers, have the right to make these important choices.