NM council OKs smoking ordinance

By David Fenker

By the end of August, North Manchester’s public spaces will be smoke-free.

The town council approved the third and final reading of General Ordinance No. 3, referred to as the enhanced smoking ban, at its Aug. 1 meeting.

After a 30-day grace period, smoking will be banned:

Within 15 feet of entrances and windows of spaces where smoking is prohibited;

In any work space, enclosed or outdoors;

On all property owned by the town, including parks and parking lots as well as buildings;

In or within 15 feet of outdoor seating areas at restaurants and bars;

In or within 15 feet of public events and festivals;

In restaurants, bars and private clubs;

In tobacco retail shops;

And others.

The ordinance defines smoking as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, or pipe, or any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product intended for inhalation.” This includes hookahs and marijuana.

Electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes are also included in the definition.

The ban enhances the 2012 Indiana Smoke-Free Air Law, which prohibited smoking only within eight feet of public entrances and permitted smoking in bars, certain membership clubs and tobacco retail shops. The state law allows local communities to adopt stronger regulations.

Enforcement of the ban falls primarily on business owners, managers and employees, who are directed to first ask a person violating the ban on their premises to cease smoking, and then to refuse service and ask the person to leave the property if they do not comply. Should the person still not comply, the business representative is directed to call law enforcement.

Individuals in violation of the ordinance may face a fine of up to $50. Business owners, operators or managers found to be in violation of the ordinance may face fines of up to $100 for one violation, up to $200 for the second, and up to $500 for each additional violation within one year.

The ban garnered full support of the council, and strong support from the community. At the council’s July meeting, council president Chalmer “Toby” Tobias said that he received a petition with more than 200 signatures against the ban, but no members of the public voiced opposition during any of the three council meetings at which the ordinance was voted upon.

Several residents  wearing white shirts in support of the ban attended both the July and August meetings.

At the Aug. 1 meeting, North Manchester resident and KenopocoMocha co-owner Debbie Chinworth spoke in favor of the ban.

“I'm really glad you're taking this step,” Chinworth said to the council. “As … one of the owners of [KenopocoMocha], it's really nice to have that 15-foot rule for our outdoor diners.”

The Wabash County Tobacco Free Coalition first brought the ordinance to the town. The coalition also offered a version to the City of Wabash.

“I just want to take this opportunity to applaud the town council for the unified action you've taken to help protect the health of the citizens of North Manchester,” Dan Gray, director of Wabash County Tobacco Free Coalition, said at the Aug. 1 meeting. “It's not always an easy effort to do something like this, but your boldness and your willingness to work toward this needs to be commended.”

Council member Tom Dale thanked Gray and the coalition for their support.

“I think this is a very important thing that we did for our town,” he said. “I know there's people who aren't going to be real happy about it, but I think the vast majority of our community will breathe easier because of this in many ways.”

While the ordinance will not go into effect in time for this year's FunFest (Aug. 9-11), it will impact Eel River Arts Festival (Sept. 8), Harvest Festival (Oct. 6), and any other festival or outdoor event taking place after Aug. 31.

“I think the fact that we included our outdoor festivals is a major thing,” Dale said, “because it eliminates the potential for children to be exposed to secondhand smoke.”

Dale also noted that WCTFC will provide all signage for businesses and the town via a grant.

According to a release from the coalition, North Manchester is the 22nd locality to pass a smoke-free ordinance.

Additional news from the meeting included designation of recently annexed land on the south side of the town as an economic redevelopment area, a step in a tax abatement process for Midwest Poultry Service’s $4 million investment to relocate its home office to North Manchester.

The property is located along the Eel River, west of Wabash Road.

A public hearing on the abatement will occur next month.

The council also approved a bid from Compass Minerals for salt used to soften the town’s water supply. Compass delivered the low bid at $113.70.

Posted on 2018 Aug 07