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.
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.
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.