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Proposal To Repeal Indiana’s “Smokers Bill Of Rights”

Posted On January 08, 2018

By Mike Perleberg

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Lawmakers may repeal a state law that prohibits Indiana employers from screening prospective employees for tobacco use.

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that State Senator Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) has filed Senate Bill 23. It would repeal the so-called “smokers bill of rights” law passed in 1991.

The legislation could permit companies to require employees to not use tobacco products, even when they are not at work.

“I think the intention is simple,” Brown told IBJ on Wednesday. “We want to give employers the ability to manage their employees and their insurance costs without the state carving out a special class for protection.”

Indiana, where 41 percent of adults smoke according to the America’s Health Rankings 2017 Annual Report, is among more than 20 states with smoke protection laws. Employers believe those protections are costing them more for health insurance for employees.

Organizations supporting the bill have formed the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana. They include the Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana State Medical Association, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana, and Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health.

SB 23 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Pensions and Labor. If it passes in its current form, the 1991 smoker protections law would be repealed effective July 1, 2018.