By the time the Carmel City Council unanimously approved updates to the smoking ordinance July 15, residents on both sides of the issue expressed displeasure with the end result.
But city councilors said the changes are a result of months of discussion among councilors and residents with varying opinions on the topic.
“This is a strong compromise that doesn’t hurt the existing businesses,” Councilor Tony Green said.
The amendments ban e-cigarettes everywhere that smoking is prohibited, which now extends to parks, trails and outdoor seating areas owned by the city. The changes also allow police officers to issue citations for smoking ordinance violations and prohibits bars that don’t already allow smoking from doing so in the future.
Nick Torres, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Indiana, told the council he opposes the amended ordinance because it isn’t as comprehensive as he’d like to see. He is in favor of a smoking ban in all public places, which he said would be easier for residents to understand and be “fair across the board.”
“(Ordinances with grandfathering language) become difficult for the public to understand and leaves out workers we believe should be protected in the workplace,” Torres said.
Carmel resident Duncan Wilson spoke against the amendments from a different perspective, saying they could set a dangerous precedent.
“There are studies that talk about the dangers of sugar, carbs and the 2,000-calorie sandwiches that are served on Main Street,” Wilson said. “I’m just saying if this is how we’re going to start introducing things, be careful because then other people can start attacking other items.”
The review of the ordinance began in the spring to address an increase in e-cigarette use in schools. Carmel Clay Schools prohibits vaping and has procedures to address it, but school resource officers haven’t been able to cite students who are 18 years old and older for using e-cigarettes on campus because the law did not prohibit it.
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.