INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana has joined the 39 other states, including Illinois, that ban smoking in most or all public places.
Gov. Mitch Daniels signed House Enrolled Act 1149, the state's first smoking ban, into law Monday in his Statehouse office. The smoking ban takes effect July 1.
Under the new law, smoking is prohibited in all indoor public spaces except bars and taverns, casinos, cigar and hookah bars, tobacco shops and cigar manufacturers.
Hoosiers will be allowed to smoke at private clubs, such as American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars halls, but only in designated rooms with separate ventilation systems, and in home-based businesses if there are no nonfamily employees.
Even though it's not the comprehensive smoking ban he wanted, state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, was all smiles Monday as he stood beside Daniels. The Republican governor used four pens to sign his name and make the smoking ban law at 10:14 a.m. region time.
"It is a gigantic step forward the fact that we were able to get at least half of the legislation through this year, and if I am fortunate enough to be a winner in November, I'll be back here to try to tackle the second half next year," Brown said.
Brown led the effort to enact a smoking ban for the past five years, repeatedly winning approval in the House but getting blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate. Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, flipped from a smoking ban opponent to a supporter this year after the Senate added an exemption for bars and taverns.
"(Long's) got a strange caucus over there, and he gave up a lot in trying to get those guys to understand that this is something that needs to be done this year," Brown said.
Throughout the 10-week legislative session, Daniels asked lawmakers to send him a smoking ban with as few exemptions as necessary. He said that's what they did.
"I believe that the Legislature and all of us who worked on it got absolutely as much as was possible at this time, and that should be viewed as a huge step forward," Daniels said.