ANDERSON — A smoke-free Madison County. That's the vision of health officials there.
In 2012, a new Indiana state law prohibited smoking in most public places. Casinos, bars and fraternal organizations were exempt. Since them, some counties have adopted their own more inclusive smoking ordinances.
Madison County has been a holdout. Stephenie Grimes, Madison County Health Department Administrator, says now is the time to change that.
"The conversation was started. We would love for casinos, bars and private clubs to be smoke-free upon reopening," said Grimes. "It would be a short timeline. We would hope businesses would recognize this is an opportunity improve the health of our county. We are last for quality of life in the state, and 88th for health behaviors, with adult smoking as a contributing factor."
Other health officials in the county agree, especially when it comes to Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson, which is currently closed as part of the state's COVID-19 restrictions. The fear is that the virus could spread more easily in a smokey environment. And the trend among casinos is to go smoke free. French Lick Casino in southern Indiana will reopen as a some-free facility.
On Friday in downtown Indianapolis, casino employee rallied for safer working conditions when they return to their jobs.
In Madison County, Grimes is hoping there might be a voluntary move toward going smoke-free. Short of that, it would take action by the Madison County Commissioners.
Does she think it will happen? "That’s a big question. It’s a monumental effort. Madison County Health Department
will continue to have the conversations, and we will always push for a healthier county. We would hope our business partners would want the same."