BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Electronic cigarette users will have to keep in mind new regulations in Bloomington.
The city's common council added electronic smoking devices to its smoking ordinance Wednesday night. The change means 'vaping' is prohibited wherever smoking is not allowed.
"The public has a right to clean air," said common council member Chris Sturbaum (D-District1). "There’s nothing wrong with vaping, and people can do that. But when it's in the public realm, they have to respect other people’s right to breathe."
In Bloomington, smoking is not permitted at workplaces, closer than a "reasonable distance" from buildings or in public places where people gather for a period of time.
Sturbaum and Beverly Calender-Anderson, Director of Community and Family Resources Department, both cite public health concerns for the change in the ordinance. They say there is limited research on the long-term effects of exposure to the vapors, but they rather be cautious.
"Vape on your own time, in your own space," Sturbaum said. "You don’t have the right to impose that on other people."
Others say they are skeptical about the need for restrictions on electronic cigarettes.
"I think it's way less of a health concern than regular smokers," said Danny Miecuna, who has used e-cigs before.
Calender-Anderson also said the added language to the smoking ordinance will protect workers at restaurants and bars who could otherwise be exposed to vapors from e-cigs for hours each day.
Nick's English Hut owner, Gregg Rago, said they've had an in-house policy in place to deal with growing popularity of vaping. He says enforcing the restrictions at the business will be easier now that electronic smoking devices will be part of the smoking ordinance.
"We don’t want to make our customers feel uncomfortable with somebody vaping next to them," Rago said. "Since it was not a city ordinance, people felt they could vape when they wanted to."
Businesses will also have to update their 'No Smoking' signs to include the updated messaging about e-cigs.
The Community and Family Resources Department plans to roll out an educational campaign to let residents and businesses know what the change in the ordinance means for them.
A violation of the city's smoking ordinance comes with a $100 fine.
Bloomington joins a handful of other Indiana communities that added vaping to their smoking regulations, including Marion and Howard counties.