As the City of Carmel considers banning vaping in public places, it may also stop allowing smoking at bars and clubs.
Only a few businesses in Carmel still allow smoking, but several city councilors believe it’s time to outlaw it throughout the city in large part to protect the health of employees who work at those establishments. The council’s finance, utilities and rules committee discussed prohibiting vaping and making the bans more comprehensive at a June 10 meeting.
Several Hamilton County residents expressed support for both changes at the meeting.
“We have to do something and we have to do something now. This is a perfect opportunity for Carmel to do more than just (ban) e-cigarettes to protect their residents,” said Stacy London, coalition coordinator for Breathe Easy Hamilton County. “If you haven’t looked at this policy for almost 10 years now, it’s really opening the door for you to go and protect employees and customers that go into restaurants.”
Several Indiana cities have comprehensive smoking bans, including South Bend, Fort Wayne, Kokomo, Elkhart, Plainfield and others. The committee indicated it would likely meet again before the July 1 city council meeting, which is the earliest the council could vote on the changes. A committee meeting date has not been set.
The council began reviewing the smoking ordinance several weeks ago to address increased e-cigarette use at Carmel High School. E-cigarettes are banned on campus, but school resource officers are limited in dealing with the issue with students who are 18 years old or older. The proposed changes would make it a violation for people of all ages to vape in any public building, including schools.
CHS junior Isabel Jensen told the committee that vaping is “crazy rampant” at school, with students constantly using e-cigarettes in the bathrooms and even in class.
“It’s so surreal. It’s gross, and it’s uncomfortable,” the 16-year-old said. “The bathrooms aren’t a big place and they’re vaping in them throughout the day. Students who don’t vape are going in there every day and they’re inhaling all this smoke that all these other kids are leaving out here, and they think it’s OK.”
She said she was asked to speak about kids who want to quit vaping but that she doesn’t know any.
“They don’t want to quit because they don’t think there’s a problem with it,” she said. “They want to keep doing it.”
This story will be updated.