For now, I'll stick with my earlier prediction that Indiana won't do anything about a statewide smoking ban this year. There's just too much else going on, especially the difficulty of crafting a two-year budget during a recession.
But the momentum has definitely switched to the anti-smoking side. When this was first brought up, it seemed that most ordinary people were either against such a ban or silent, and just a handful of clean-air advocates and easily caricatured health nuts were on the prohibition bandwagon. But consider the hearing held this week by a House committee. There were scores of passionate advocates on the no-smoking side, many of them those formerly silent ordinary people. And on the anti-ban side?
But opponents -- most from the gambling, restaurant and tavern industries -- told the committee that a ban would hurt their businesses, cut tax revenue and put Hoosiers out of work.
If the ban's strongest opponents are bars and casinos, that's a problem. "Let's see, if we ban public smoking, which will improve the state's overall health, it might also result in fewer people drinking and driving and fewer people becoming gambling addicts. And the downside of that is . . .?"