Shelbyville considers extending smoking ban to school bus stops

Shelbyville Smoking Ban
Proposal to ban smoking at school bus stops
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SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) - Stricter bans on smoking are now being considered in Shelbyville, in hopes of protecting children.

The city may expand its smoking ban to include school bus stops after a local mom expressed concern for her son and other students.

Crystal Smothers noticed the problem on her son's first day of first grade: a parent, smoking next to the children at the bus stop.

Her seven-year-old son Bryce has asthma.

"I introduced myself, introduced my son and I just let her know that he had asthma and I'd really appreciate it if she didn't smoke at the bus stop," Smothers said. "She took one step away, but kept smoking. I kind of explained to her that just wasn't going to be enough and he was already starting to wheeze and she just didn't seem to care at all. If you speak to someone and you tell them why they usually have no problem with it, but in this situation, it wasn't happening."

She says the parent came to the bus stop and lit up day after day. Her son's street corner wasn't the only one where this was happening.

"I realized about one out of every three bus stops, someone was sitting there smoking with the children," Smothers said. "You think about those kids. They're there five days a week, morning and evening, having to inhale that. That's a lot on their lungs."

So the school changed Bryce's bus stop to another nearby street, where he now has to stand alone in order to avoid the smoke. Crystal Smothers contacted her councilman and the mayor's office about changing city law to include bus stops in the smoking ban.

"People can really make a difference when they come to us and she did," said Shelbyville Councilman Brad Ridgeway. "We don't want to limit people from smoking around maybe their front yards where a bus stop is, but we think it's acceptable maybe 15 or 20 feet, so the children don't have the secondhand smoke."

A 15-foot perimeter is proposed for not only school bus stops, but also government buildings, city parks and city bus stops with ShelbyGo in Shelbyville.

The city attorney and councilmen are working on language of the law, to make sure personal property is not infringed upon and a vote is expected next month. Police would be in charge of enforcement, with a goal of education, followed by a warning, then tickets for violators.

The ban seems reasonable to Shelbyville resident Matthew Pritchard.

"I totally agree with that and I'm a smoker," Pritchard said. "Because I don't think the children should be subjected to that. If you're going to smoke and you can't wait five minutes and you'e going to go right back home and drop off your kid, come on. I totally agree with 15 feet."

For Crystal Smothers, it's about keeping her son and his fellow students safe.

"If you're smoking, you could walk away or just wait for a minute, but they can't. They can't leave," Smothers said. "Some people just don't think about it in the mornings. They're in their routine they're ready to go. Getting it out there, letting them know how important it is to those children, I think is going to make a big difference."

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