I’m hopeful we can see progress on a state-wide
smoking ban this year, and, from my perspective, the more comprehensive the better. I think
Indiana is really lagging behind on this issue. I know in counties, throughout the state of
Indiana, where they have adopted smoking bans, they have not seen a significant decline in
business for restaurants and bars and establishments like that. In fact in some places they’ve
even seen increases. And this is a real public health hazard. The fallout from second-hand
smoke is something that we’re becoming more and more knowledgeable about, and it’s estimated
that about four-hundred-million dollars is spent on treating illnesses from second-hand
smoke. And further, there seems to be an issue that impacts workers who are more blue collar
workers or people in the service sector, retail, that sort of thing. About three out of every
four workers who are so-called white collar workers, they have a smoke-free workplace.
But only about half of workers who consider themselves blue collar or retail, service
sector workers, about half of them continue to be exposed to second-hand smoke, so we
need to do something for those workers as well. And, since Indiana is one of the states
that has a higher incidence of smoking than almost all the other states in the union,
there’s a particularly big step that we could take toward addressing that issue.