Imagine, you are walking down Kirkwood, going to your favorite bar or restaurant. It’s a busy Friday night with people all up and down the road.
As you approach your destination, the guy in front of you puffs out a huge cloud of vape smoke — noxious and annoying — right in your face.
Unfortunately, this has happened to more people than it should have. As the IDS the Bloomington City Council has decided to ban vaping in public. So, if the law works as intended, clouds of smoke fouling the streets may be a thing of the past.
The law is also well-balanced. Vaping is still allowed in smoke shops and private areas, so those that enjoy this are free to do it around others that enjoy it as well.
The Editorial Board is fully behind attempts to remove vaping from the public space. Despite this, we have reservations about the law.
Most importantly, police resources are valuable and need to be prioritized toward keeping the city safe. While vaping is certainly annoying, it is not dangerous to Bloomington residents.
Within recent memory, there have been several attempted abductions near campus.
Moreover, IU is already a smoke-free campus. While the ordinance passed by city hall applies to the city and not just campus, IU’s case illustrates the difficulty of these sorts of laws.
While smoking is banned on all IU properties already, you do not have to walk very far in any direction to notice an ash tray or cigarette butts.
This would imply that IU has already either decided its own ban is simply not worth enforcing or it does not have the resources to do so itself. The policy page asks for enforcement help from students and staff.
It would be a shame for Bloomington’s law to be similarly not enforced. While having police patrolling the streets looking for vaping wrongdoers is appealing, it is never good to have the law, even bad laws, go ignored. This undermines the legitimacy of all laws and makes breaking other, more serious laws, less of a big deal. Think of it as gateway criminality.
The Editorial Board therefore believes if the city of Bloomington is intent on having this well-intentioned law, it must be enforced.
Police must actively prevent citizens from vaping on the streets rather than merely having a cosmetic ban. This, however, must be accomplished in a manner that does not distract the police from enforcing real crimes with real victims, undermining their effectiveness
These are the questions inherent in city leadership. If the excess police resources are there to enforce this law, then by all means go forward.
If they are not there, the law should be repealed before citizens have one more minor law to violate with near impunity, as is the case with seat belts, speed limits, and smoking on IU’s campus.