INDIANAPOLIS — Between now and July 4, you can expect some major changes at Indy Parks.
On Monday night, the City-County Council voted to adopt a proposal that will effectively ban smoking and vaping at Indy Parks. They joined a growing list of smoke-free places across the city, which has been in the making for quite some time.
"It’s a big measure that is long overdue," Councilor John Barth said, regarding the reassurance that the environment in Indianapolis is safer.
"My son is asthmatic almost to an extreme degree. We've had to fight pneumonia and things like that," Meshia Hayes said. "So, I think it's good for him who actually enjoys the park to not have to deal with complications attributed to smoking."
A proposal that started back in 2012, expanding smoking protection in Indianapolis has always been a priority for Barth. Now, a local code amendment has been approved by the council, banning smoking and vaping in public parks, changing outdoor recreation in the city forever.
“The use of the parks has gone through the roof through the pandemic. More and more families are there with their young children. As they are there, and they have secondhand smoke around them and nearby them and exposed to their children. Families are concerned by that and they want to make sure that it's a safe place for everyone," Barth said.
“I think it's wonderful. Right now, I live in Speedway. They've done that for the last few years, and it's been great," Bret Robinson said.
Historically, Indiana ranks among the states with the highest rates of smoking. Barth hopes this will help curb those skyrocketing numbers by expanding nonsmoking areas around the city.
"Cleaner air is better for all of us," Hayes said.
The ban will likely go into effect before or by July 4 and enforceable fines will be given. $100 tickets will be given by park rangers for a first offense, followed by a court ticket or fine ranging between $200 to $7,500 for subsequent violators.
"If you make it a culture where you go into your car or whatever, that’s great. But hitting people with 100 bucks, that's probably not okay," Robinson said.
"The most important thing to do is to communicate. When you communicate and have signage, people usually comply," Barth added.
When asked if there will be a grace period for people to adjust Barth explained that grace period will be now for people to start making this a habit. Barth also said there are more than 900 cities across the country that has already adopted this ban.
The Indianapolis "Smoke-Free Air Ordinance" also bans smoking in bars, bowling alleys and enclosed areas within places of employment, including restaurants and many other areas.