MUNSTER — All tobacco and vaping products have been banned from Munster’s public spaces and facilities, in which violators can be fined up to $1,500 and even be labeled as a "public nuisance."
On Nov. 18 the council approved on a second reading of the ordinance that bans the smoking of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes within 15 feet of a public space or entrance to a public facility in Munster, according to the Lake County Tobacco Prevention Coalition.
“This is one of the most comprehensive local smoke-free air ordinances that has passed in the state in Indiana,” said Irene Boone Phillips, program coordinator for the coalition.
A first-time offense will be written up, a second violation will result in a $200 fine, a third will be a $400 fine, a fourth will be an $800 fine and there will be a $1,500 fine for every additional violation within a calendar year, the ordinance said.
Repeated violation of the ordinance has been deemed a public nuisance, in which the town of Munster could seek a restraining order against a violator.
The passing of Ordinance 1780 landed on the anniversary of the death of one Munster resident’s mother. At the Nov. 18 meeting, Nancy Konopasek spoke about how her mother, Mary Henke, died of lung cancer from second-hand smoke exposure 10 years ago.
“My mom basically sacrificed her life so that I could go to college,” Konopasek said to the council. “People need their jobs to survive but should not have to tolerate the ravages of second-hand smoke as my mom did.”
The reason behind banning the use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devises is “the aerosol emitted by these devises include nicotine, heavy metals, cancer-causing agents and also have high concentrations of ultrafine particles.”
The coalition cited that 47 deaths associated e-cigarettes and vaping products have been recorded nationwide.
“The town of Munster has made the lives of residents and the future of their youth a priority,” said Rachelle Back, regional program director for the Indiana State Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention Cessation Commission.