Stricter smoking ban heading to Carmel City Council for July 15 vote

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The Carmel City Council is set to vote July 15 on changes to the smoking ordinance that add a ban on e-cigarettes, strengthen enforcement options and prohibit smoking in bars except those already in existence.

The council’s Finance, Utilities and Rules Committee unanimously approved amendments to the ordinance at a July 9 meeting.

The review of the ordinance began in the spring to address an increase in e-cigarette use in schools. Carmel Clay Schools prohibits vaping, but school resource officers are not able to cite students who are 18 years old and older for using e-cigarettes on campus because the law does not prohibit it.

The updated ordinance would ban vaping everywhere that smoking is banned, which includes in schools and on buses. It would also give police authority to issue citations, as currently enforcement is only handled through the Dept. of Community Services, the fire marshal and city attorney’s office.

As committee members reviewed the ordinance, they considered making the smoking ban more comprehensive by expanding it to bars and private clubs, two areas currently exempt. Ultimately, they decided to grandfather in the three bars already in existence that permit smoking and allow private clubs to determine their own smoking policies.

“I’m not getting into (regulating) private clubs,” councilor Kevin “Woody” Rider said. “That’s the whole point of a private club.”

The proposed ordinance still allows smoking at tobacco retailers.

The committee added a requirement that a bar or tobacco retailer must be in continuous operation at the same location to maintain its exemption from the smoking ban.

“I really don’t want it to be like an alcohol permit, where they can move it from place to place,” Councilor Sue Finkam said.

The American Legion Post 155, 852 W. Main St., is the only private club in Carmel that allows smoking. The three bars are Nippers Grill & Tap, 1772 E. 116th St.; Old Town Tavern, 29 W. Main St.; and Jimmy B’s, 10598 N. College Ave.; which are all in “prime redevelopment areas,” according to Finkam.

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