Smoking Ban Begins July 1; We Have Signs

As Indiana’s smoking ban goes into effect on July 1, impacted employers need to post conspicuous signage at each public entrance.
 
We’re offering both laminated 8 X 11-inch posters and 6 X 6.5-inch double-sided window clings to help you comply. (The law does not specify an exact size requirement of the signage.)
 
Our signs can be ordered online or by calling customer service at (800) 824-6885. They are $15 each, or $11.25 for Indiana Chamber members. We expect to begin shipping them this week.

Furthermore, our friends at Inside INdiana Business recently featured an informative video on the smoking ban, which should help provide more clarity for your business.

Study: Smoking a Costly Habit for Indiana Businesses

The fact that smoking has been detrimental to Indiana and its businesses likely doesn’t surprise anyone at this point. However, the gravity of its destruction is quantified in a new report from Ball State University. Additionally, if your company needs laminated signs or window stickers reading "State Law Prohibits Smoking Within 8 Feet of This Entrance" to comply with the upcoming ban, you can purchase those from the Indiana Chamber.

As Indiana prepares for a statewide smoking ban on July 1, a new study from Ball State University finds that 21.2 percent of Hoosiers admit to regularly lighting up a cigarette, a habit costing the state nearly $2.6 billion in productivity losses and $2.2 billion in health care costs each year.

"Burden of Smoking among Adults in Indiana," a report by Ball State’s Global Health Institute (GHI) based on 2010 data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), ranks the state 42nd worst in terms of percentage of population among the 50 states and District of Columbia. Only eight states have higher smoking rates than Indiana."

"We have known for decades that smoking is counterproductive for our health and plays a major role for the spiraling health care costs facing both employees and their employers," said Kerry Anne McGeary , GHI director and Phyllis A. Miller professor of health economics. "When combined with our reports on obesity, this report demonstrates that on average Hoosiers have health issues and engage in behaviors that put them at risk for chronic conditions."

She pointed out that on average, about 9,700 deaths per year in Indiana are attributable to smoking while the habit is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for one in five deaths or about 443,000 each year.

"Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease – ailments that are preventable simply by not lighting up in the first place," McGeary said. "Smoking kills half of its users. About one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco. This data sends a clear message to smokers that they are involved in a very dangerous habit."

The study also found:

* About 23.3 percent of males are currently smoking as compared to 19.3 of women.

• Adults older than 65 have the lowest smoking rate at 8 percent as compared to adults 18-24 years old at 21.2 percent, 25-44 years old at 26.1 percent and 45-64 years old at 22.6 percent.

• About 30.1 percent of African-American adults regularly smoke as compared to 20.6 percent of white adults and 16.8 percent of Hispanic adults.

• Smoking rates decrease as income increases. Smokers make up 39.4 percent with household incomes of less than $15,000, 30.9 percent with household incomes of $15,000-$24,999, 24.2 percent with household incomes of $25,000-$49,999, 16.6 percent with household incomes of $50,000-$74,999, and 11.1 percent with household incomes of more than $75,000.

• Smoking rates also decrease as education levels increase. About 35.1 percent with less than a high school education are smokers as compared to 25.3 percent of adults with a high school education, 24.8 percent with some college education, and 8.9 percent with a college education.

McGeary attributes anti-smoking policies as well as a combination of new tobacco taxes, anti-smoking campaigns and indoor clean air acts in playing a role in reducing the number of people taking up the habit.

The report found that percentage of current smokers in Indiana has dropped from about 29 percent in 1996 to 21.2 percent in 2010. About 60 percent of Hoosiers who smoke have tried to quit at least once, tying the national rate. In 1994, about 42 percent of Hoosier smokers tried to quit as compared to slightly more than 45 percent across the country.

And the Legislators’ Grades Are …

We asked you to evaluate the efforts of the Indiana General Assembly in 2012 and you responded with how I imagine most teacher gradebooks end up looking — a wide variety of marks.

The totals:

  • 28% give legislators a B, with the same percentage not so happy as they offered a D grade
  • 21% say A
  • 17% go down the middle with a C
  • About 7% are in the "other" category (likely an "F" grade)

Right-to-work, a smoking ban that covers 95% of workplaces and elimination of the state’s inheritance tax rank high on the Indiana Chamber’s list of priorities. Despite a few missteps, I’ll go with an "A" for the year.

Our new poll question (top right) offers you the chance to play Supreme Court justice on the health care reform law. Thanks for reading and voting.

Short Session Long on Achievement

The following is a message from Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar:

It was the tale of two sessions in 2012. Act one centered on making Indiana the 23rd right-to-work state, giving current and future Hoosier workers the right to choose whether or not to join a labor union. Act two set the stage for such vital public policies as a statewide smoking ban, protection of our water rights and the inheritance tax elimination to become reality.

The passage of right-to-work (HB 1001) was truly monumental. Now, Indiana has further distinguished itself from neighboring states and given companies another big reason to bring their business and jobs here – and not there. In the short time since it passed, there has already been documented interest from several companies now putting Indiana at the top of the list for their business relocation or expansion. And it’s only just beginning!

Under the state’s new smoking ban law (HB 1149), Indiana will now protect 95% of people while at work and also allow citizens to eat at any restaurant in the state without having to encounter cigarette or cigar smoke. That will make a huge difference in all parts of the state. Many Hoosier towns are not part of a metro area and did not have a non-smoking ordinance previously in place. This new state law will protect residents in those locations.

Also now covered are companies that wanted to make their workplaces smoke-free but couldn’t due to existing labor agreements. Meanwhile, local governments still can enact stricter ordinances and the ones already passed remain in place. Sure, an even more comprehensive ban would have been preferred. What passed, however, was the strongest possible that could be done at this time and nothing short of a major accomplishment.

You can also count the inheritance tax elimination (SB 293) as a big victory. This tax only amounts to 1% of the total state revenue but made things unnecessarily difficult for so many Hoosiers. For a small family-owned company, the inheritance tax was often a tremendous hindrance to even staying in business after the death of the owner.

Effective at the end of the year, the more favorably-treated Class A category of inheritors expands (to include stepchildren and children’s spouses) and the amount excluded from the tax increases from $100,000 to $250,000. Beginning next year, the inheritance tax will be phased out equally over nine years – going away completely in 2022.

One bill that didn’t get a lot of press, but was among the most important to pass involves the state’s water supply (SB 132). Now water utilities are required to report usage to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission; only 15% of utilities previously did so. It also clarifies the water usage laws to confirm that private property owners, not municipalities, have control of the underground wells on their property. Both are needed steps toward a statewide plan for the protection and effective regulation of Indiana’s water resources.

In the local government arena, a multi-year effort to eliminate nepotism and conflict of interest for local government office holders and employees (HB 1005) finally made it across the finish line. There are too many examples where taxpayers pay for excessive costs because an employee also serves on the legislative body that approves that local government unit’s budget.

The grandfathering in of current employees is too generous, but nonetheless was a positive step that new local government employees will have to abide by.

We thank House and Senate leaders, along with Gov. Daniels, who took on several high-profile, emotional issues this session and guided them to passage. It was a fitting conclusion for Daniels’ final legislative session, with accomplishments that will leave a lasting positive impact on Hoosiers for generations to come.

See the full 2012 Legislative Report and Scorecard.

Chamber Celebrates Three Key Highlights of the 2012 Session

The 2012 legislative session should be remembered for far more than being the forum for Indiana becoming the 23rd right-to-work state, says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar.

"While right-to-work was deservedly the headliner, we finished with the passage of two impressive supporting acts: the statewide smoking ban and the inheritance tax elimination. Both have the potential to positively impact Hoosiers for generations to come," he offers
 
Details and specific comments from Brinegar on these three public policies:

Right-to-work for employees (HB 1001) – Prohibits unions from forcing Indiana workers to join or pay dues and fees to a labor union to get or keep a job in this state; makes it the employees’ choice. Does not eliminate unions or collective bargaining.

"With the passage of right-to-work, Indiana has further distinguished itself from neighboring states and given companies another big reason to bring their business and jobs here – and not there. In the five weeks since it passed, there has already been documented interest from several companies now putting Indiana at the top of the list for their business relocation or expansion."

Statewide smoking ban (HB 1149) – Prohibits smoking in the majority of workplaces (bars/taverns, gambling institutions are biggest exceptions), all restaurants and within eight feet of a building’s public entrance. Local governments may enact stricter ordinances.

"Smoking has direct financial ramifications for all businesses that offer health care insurance and the employees who are covered, not to mention the health implications for those non-smokers who unavoidably encounter second-hand smoke.

"Indiana will now protect 95% of Hoosiers while at work and also allow citizens to eat at a restaurant without having to encounter cigarette or cigar smoke. That is a huge positive development and legislators should be commended for coming together and taking that important step at this time."

Elimination of the state’s inheritance tax (SB 293) – Phases out the inheritance tax incrementally over a nine-year period beginning in 2013, with elimination of the tax complete in 2022. Also expands the more favorably-treated Class A category of inheritors and raises the inheritance amount (currently very low) that’s excluded from the tax; both provisions take effect this year.

"This tax only amounted to 1% of total state revenue but made things unnecessarily burdensome for so many Hoosiers. For a small family-owned business, the inheritance tax could be a tremendous hindrance to even continuing after the death of the owner."

Chamber Urges Passage of Imperfect Smoking Ban Bill

Passing the statewide smoking ban bill would be a substantial step and offer Hoosiers protection from second-hand smoke in key public places, says Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar.

“House Bill 1149 would protect 95% of Hoosiers while at work and also allow citizens to eat at a restaurant without having to encounter cigarette or cigar smoke. What’s more, local communities would still be able to pass a more stringent smoking ban. These are all huge positive developments,” he declares.

“We strongly encourage legislators to carry through on the bill negotiated in conference committee and pass HB 1149.”

In reference to attempts to defeat the bill:

“To those seeking a total ban, the Indiana Chamber agrees that is ideal, but also not realistic. At this time, a bill is not going to pass that bans smoking in bars and taverns. The health of Hoosiers is too important to let this bill die yet again because the legislation is not perfect.”

The bill passed the House by a 60-33 vote last night, and moves to the Senate today for passage.