Greenwood is considering becoming one of a few communities to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places.
The city council recently introduced a proposal to include e-cigarettes and vaping in the city’s current smoking ban.
No vote has been taken, but some city council members said they support the change. A local organization focused on residents’ health does, too.
E-cigarettes have become more popular in the years since Greenwood approved its ban on smoking in public places, including parks and restaurants, and the city’s ban does not include them. Under the proposal, the ban would be changed to include e-cigarettes and vaping, and also would ban smoking in outdoor seating at restaurants, according to the ordinance.
Currently, other local communities and the statewide ban do not include e-cigarettes. The county, Bargersville and Franklin are not currently considering changing their local rules to include e-cigarettes, officials said.
Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County supports the change, along with Tobacco Free Johnson County.
The top concerns with e-cigarettes are their use by children and teens and the uncertainty of the danger in the vapor released into the air, said Jane Blessing, executive director of Partnership for a Healthier Johnson.
E-cigarettes have fewer regulations than cigarettes, and the number of youths using them is growing. So by banning them in public places, that is taking away the concern of modeling that behavior for children, she said.
People also say they use e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking cigarettes, but she said they could have the opposite effect.
The Greenwood City Council would need to approve the change, and at least three council members support it.
The effects of smoking e-cigarettes could be just as bad as smoking cigarettes, and they should be included in the ban, council member Ron Bates said.
“I’m on board with it, it’s somewhat of a no-brainer because it still affects your health,” he said.
Other communities have added e-cigarettes to their ban, and it makes sense, council member Brent Corey said.
State lawmakers were considering the same ban in the most recent legislative session, but it didn’t get passed. So the issue still needs to be explored, including what the state’s long-term goals are, Corey said.
Council members Ezra Hill and Mike Campbell want to explore the issue more. Campbell said he doesn’t have any issues with the smoking ban but is always concerned about government overreach. But most people seem happy with the smoking ban in general, so he thinks adding e-cigarettes likely wouldn’t be an issue, he said.
Hill wants to do more research into the issue, including the dangers of e-cigarettes and if smoking them in public places has been an issue in Greenwood, he said.
“I have issues with government telling people what they can and can’t do. There are some instances where it is needed,” Hill said.
Council member Thom Hord wants e-cigarettes included in the ban but also wants businesses to be held accountable for better enforcing the current ban. One issue he continually sees is people smoking near business entrances.
He also supports including outdoor seating in the ban, which Bates also agreed was needed.
Here is a look at what would be added to the Greenwood smoking ban:
Currently: The ban prohibits smoking at certain public places, including within 25 feet of most buildings that are visited by the public, in all public parks and on all city property except street, sidewalks and trails. The ban includes restaurants, but does not include bars.
What would be added:
The ban also would include e-cigarettes or vaping.
Outdoor dining areas also would be included.