KEEP YOUR SMOKE TO YOURSELF: State mulls immediate smoking ban next month

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma said Thursday that lawmakers may seek passage of a statewide smoking ban before the nation’s attention turns to Indianapolis for the February Super Bowl.Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he may speed through a statewide smoking ban since Indianapolis’ City-County Council on Tuesday voted down a proposal to ban smoking in the city ahead of the Feb. 5 Super Bowl.“Given the failure of compromise at the local level here before the Super Bowl, it may be something that needs to be placed on the fast-track for discussion,” Bosma said. “I think it’s time, it needs to happen.”Lawmakers return for their 2012 session January 4 and will have roughly one month to work through issues before they take a brief vacation as football fans take over downtown Indianapolis.Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he would consider signing a statewide smoking ban.Longtime smoking-ban advocate, Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, said he believes Bosma’s vocal support of the issue will help press it along ahead of the Super Bowl. Brown has authored a statewide smoking ban that would exempt casinos, cigar bars and hookah bars.“That comment from the speaker alone will change a lot of minds,” Brown said. The additional pressure of trying to impress visitors in town for the Super Bowl should give the statewide ban the final push it needs, he said.But supporters may have to do without getting 100 percent of what they want, if they want at least some sort of ban approved, said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne.“Hopefully we’ll find the sweet spot on this issue and there will be some willingness to move the ball forward on this issue,” he said.But House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, countered that watering down the measure too much will result in a meaningless ban.