Heuer: New Indiana laws part 2

Monday, July 9, 2012 7:00 pm

Start Date:  7/9/2012  Start Time:  8:00 AM
End Date:  7/9/2012  End Time:  8:00 AM

Protecting the health of Hoosiers is a priority of mine and my colleagues in the Indiana General Assembly. This session, we took some very positive steps toward building a healthier Indiana. On July 1, Indiana put several new laws into effect regarding public health. 

Indiana is now the 30th state to issue a comprehensive smoke-free statute that prohibits smoking in public places (in enclosed areas of a place of employment or within eight feet of a public entrance or place of employment). Smoking will be still be permitted in certain gaming facilities, cigar and hookah bars, fraternal, social and veterans clubs, tobacco stores, bars and taverns.

It is a great feeling knowing that Indiana has taken a positive step for Hoosier health. The Journal Gazette reported that in 2007, Fort Wayne expanded its existing smoking ban to include bars and private clubs. One month after the ban was implemented, bar and restaurant receipts increased 39 percent across the county compared to sales the same month for the previous year, according to the Allen County Auditor’s office. 

Every year, secondhand smoke costs our state over $390 million in excessive medical expenses. I believe a statewide smoking ban is a great change for Indiana and will not only save money, but will also help decrease smoke caused health problems such as heart attacks and asthma-related illnesses.

Along with passing the statewide smoking ban, the Indiana General Assembly passed a new law that will help increase the rate of HIV testing in Indiana. Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV is key to helping HIV patients live longer lives and to preventing the spread of disease. Unfortunately, too many patients in Indiana are being diagnosed with HIV after they’ve already become symptomatic. Due to low testing rates, the majority of Hoosiers diagnosed with HIV also have AIDS. The progression of HIV to AIDS has a better chance of being prevented if diagnosed earlier, and that is the goal of Indiana's new law.

Finally, I think it is important to highlight a new Indiana law regarding bath salts. While this law actually went into effect upon passage a few months ago, it is a topic that is increasing in popularity and needs to continually be addressed. Bath salts are dangerous synthetic drugs composed of chemicals that are designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine. They can cause delusions, paranoia, violent behavior and death. Unfortunately, this drug is quickly gaining popularity among young adults.

This past session, with bi-partisan support, we worked to close loopholes in Indiana’s synthetic drug laws to cover the new products, such as bath salts, that are hitting the market with slightly different compounds than those currently prohibited by Indiana law. Now, more than 60 chemical compounds found in synthetic drugs like “bath salts” have been added to the state’s list of illegal substances. I am pleased that Indiana is taking a proactive approach to this increasingly popular and potentially deadly issue.

For more information on either of these new laws, or for a complete list of new Indiana laws, please visit http://www.in.gov/legislative/reports/2012/2012GOV.PDF. As always, please contact me with any questions, concerns or input by calling 317-232-9647 or by emailing H83@in.gov.

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Rep. Heuer represents parts of Allen, Noble and Whitley Counties.

Heuer GC - new laws part two.docx