July 02, 2012
Chicagoans are likely planning trips to Indiana in light of Illinois' newest cigarette tax, but they may be disappointed to find many of the same smoking restrictions in effect after this week.
A statewide law went into effect Sunday that prohibits smoking inside all restaurants, workplaces and most bars, the first ban to include all of Indiana that follows a series of city-specific regulations, according to Protect Local Control, a smoke-free Indiana activist group.
The law still permits smoking in free-standing bars and taverns, casinos, cigar and hookah bars and tobacco shops, as well as in private clubs with designated, ventilated smoking rooms and home-based businesses where all employees are family.
Some business owners say the law's all-or-nothing mentality could unfairly hurt their business. Mike Kozy manages a Hammond's Olympia Lanes, and told the Northwest Indiana Times that since "my lounge is under the roof of the bowling center, I fall in the category of entertainment, which means my bar patrons who like to...smoke a cigarette can't. But yet they can go down to the local ma-and-pa bar and do exactly that."
Businesses with the option to allow smoking also have hard decisions to make. Carol Bailey, owner of Matey's restaurant and bar in Michigan City, told CBS Chicago she can no longer admit anyone under 21 to the restaurant since their building allows smoking, which she says could cost her a lot of business she relied on from families.
The law has been polarizing across the state, but advocates point to cost savings that could outweigh lost business. Tim Bristol, director of Crawfordsville Smoke Free, told the Journal Review that employers can save on insurance costs, cut maintenance expenses and help increase life spans across the state by banning smoking from their businesses. He told the news site that Indiana loses 2,500 people daily to lung cancer.
Illinois has had a sweeping ban on smoking in public places since January 1, 2008, though there have been recent talks about loosening the state's strict regulations.