Vaping will be prohibited in public spaces and regulated like smoking cigarettes in accordance with a new city ordinance.
The Bloomington city council passed two changes to health and safety ordinances at Wednesday's meeting. The changes include regulations to vaping, using stench bombs and fencing around bodies of water.
The council passed the vaping ordinance 7-0-1. Council member Stephen Volan abstained from voting. Council member Tim Mayer was not present at the meeting.
City regulations on smoking have existed for about 40 years and currently ban smoking in certain public places and outdoor areas. The latest proposed ordinance would define electronic smoking devices and ban them in public places and workplaces.
Electronic smoking devices are defined as devices, such as e-cigarettes, capable of producing inhalable nicotine.
The federal government extended its regulations on smoking in 2016 to include electronic smoking devices. Indianapolis, other cities in the state and Howard County have similar laws.
The ordinance is designed to deter young adults and teenagers, the age group most likely to use electronic smoking devices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We want to reiterate that this is not about the pros and cons of vaping," said Beverly Calendar Anderson, director of the city Community and Family Resources Department. "This is about Bloomington city residents to be able to breathe clean air in public places."
The sentiment was the same for every council member who voted yes to the ordinance.
Council member Isabel Piedmont-Smith proposed an amendment to the ordinance that expands the definition of tobacco stores adds to include vape shops. It is legal to smoke tobacco in smoke shops. The original ordinance said it would be legal to use electronic smoking devices in tobacco shops. The amendment allows vaping to continue in vape shops. The amendment was passed 7-0-1.
Another amendment proposed by Piedmont-Smith would require signage to let people know they are prohibited from vaping, as with no smoking signs.
"I think signage makes it easier for restaurant owners and business owners to support the smoking ban," council vice president Dorothy Granger said.
Volan proposed to delay the vote for two more weeks to give himself and other council members more time to research and make their decisions, but was struck down in a tie vote when council members were split on whether or not it the vote was a pressing issue and if it would interfere with future busier council meetings.
City legal Mike Router said Mayor John Hamilton and his administration supported the ordinance.
The second ordinance also changes city code to stop regulating stench bombs and water fencing passed 7-0-1. Council member Chris Sturbaum abstained.
The current regulations prohibit the sale, possession or use of any device that omits “noxious or offensive smelling” in the city. These laws were instated in 1957, and the city does not have any record of a violation of the law.
The ordinance also mandates that swimming pools three feet deep or deeper need to have five-feet-tall fencing surrounding them. The ordinance would also take away the regulation that all bodies of water need to have such fencing.
The city did not follow its own ordinance because building fences would be expensive, hinder storm water flow and diminish aesthetic value of the area. Removing the ordinance would take away the liability of the city to anyone who was injured at a public body of water that was not fenced.
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Members approved funding to six Monroe County fire departments as well.
The city is raising its parking prices for the first time in 10 years.
The council passed 6 items and heard 5 presentations Wednesday night.