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An Indiana Senate committee has approved a bill that would ban smoking in many public places across the state. Today’s vote by the Public Policy Committee was 8-2.

The House-passed measure contains exemptions for casinos, private clubs, hookah bars and retail tobacco shops. Bars and taverns would be given 18 months to phase in the ban.

During public testimony, opponents such as Charles Rogers questioned why the government should get involved in the use of a legal product.

“When do you come into the American household and tell a person what they can do and what they cannot do in their own home? When did we lose that right, that freedom? Here again, we are losing freedoms, we are all adults, we all have the right to make a choice,” he said.

Supporters of the bill say the legislation is needed to protect the health of workers and others exposed to second-hand smoke. Kevin O’Flaherty spoke on behalf of the Indiana Campaign for Smokefree Air, a coalition of health groups.

“Every right we have ends when it infringes on another person’s right to health, safety and welfare,” O’Flaherty told the panel.

A smoking ban has cleared the Indiana House six times but had never gotten past the committee level in the Senate. It now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation."