Shelbyville City Council weighs smoking ban at school bus stops

SHELBYVILLE, Ind - Members of the Shelbyville City Council are researching the idea of banning smoking at school bus stops as an addition to the city’s existing smoking ordinance.

The idea was brought to the council by Shelbyville resident, Crystal Smothers, who said her asthmatic son Bryce had recently had a bad reaction to a neighbor’s cigarette smoke at the bus stop. Smother’s told the council her son, 7-year old Bryce, was already wheezing from the second-hand smoke when she asked her neighbor to put out her cigarette.

“And she looked at me for a second, and she took one step away and said ‘there he should be fine now,’” Smothers said. “And I explained to her that it’s still so close, it’s still going to affect him. He was already starting to wheeze a little bit, and she basically told me that I could just leave the stop.”

Shelbyville City Council President, Rob Nolley, says he was touched by Smothers’ story and is now researching other communities that have passed smoking bans at school bus stops.

“Goshen just recently passed a revised smoking ordinance where they banned smoking at bus stops up to 15 feet,” Nolley said. “North Manchester, same situation, 15 feet.”

Although the concept of a school bus stop smoking ban has momentum among council members, Nolley still wants to consult with the Shelbyville City Attorney and Shelbyville Central Schools to address several specific questions. For example, what if a 15-foot minimum distance extends into a resident’s lawn or driveway?

“I definitely don’t want to infringe on somebody’s personal property, and that’s why it’s important to have the city attorney there so she can weigh her input on this,” Nolley said.

As an extension of the city’s smoking ordinance, a ban at school bus stops would be enforceable by Shelbyville Police, Nolley said.

“A complaint is made, the police are sent to investigate, or if the police see it,” Nolley said. “And normally the way our ordinances work, there’s always some warnings first.”

Nolley hopes focus of the ban would be the message it carries, rather than enforcement.

“I don’t think our intent is to go out and start writing tickets,” Nolley said. “I think it’s just an educational thing. Let warnings be issued-- but if somebody become an habitual offender, then obviously they’ll need to be fined.”

Shelbyville resident and smoker, Michael Seiffert, says he agrees with the concept of not smoking around school bus stops. However, he doesn’t feel a city ban is needed to enforce it.

“I feel like the neighbors should be cool about it,” Seiffert said. “I do not feel we need to make a law about it, but I feel that people in general should have respect for our younger generation as far as that goes.”

Shelbyville resident Ariel Smith, also a smoker, believes a police-enforced ban is a good idea.

“In Shelbyville, if you stop on your way to go get a pop, you see seven different people standing there, waiting for their kids to get on the bus and smoking,” Smith said. “I feel like it’s common sense, but if not, it should be banned.”

Nolley says the council’s ordinance committee will meet next week to discuss the matter, answer questions and draft language. If that process is successful, the proposal could go before the full council for a first reading as early as October.