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INDIANAPOLIS | A statewide indoor smoking ban with limited exemptions appears likely to win committee approval in the Indiana House.

House Bill 1149, co-sponsored by state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, bans smoking in all indoor spaces except casino gaming floors, existing cigar and hookah bars and private clubs whose memberships vote to approve smoking.

Following two hours of testimony Monday, members of the House Public Health Committee did not seem persuaded to also exempt bars and restaurants or a casino's entire property, despite pleas from owners and industry representatives.  

"In the majority of places in the United States, smoking has been banned, and rightfully so," said state Rep. Eric Turner, R-Marion. "We're way behind in Indiana."

Speros Batistatos, president of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, told the committee a statewide ban with few exemptions would eliminate the confusion caused by many local smoking bans with differing provisions.

"I think we've found a bill that balances all of the interests," Batistatos said.

The committee could not vote on the legislation Monday morning because the House Democrats' boycott had blocked all House legislation from being introduced.

State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, the committee chairman, said he expects the committee will meet again now that the boycott is over and vote to forward the smoking ban to the full House.

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