By Scott Tibbs, December 18, 2007
Monroe County Health Board president Carol Touloukian was crowing last week about the low turnout at a forum on a proposal to ban smoking in automobiles if a child 13 years of age or younger is in the vehicle. According to the Herald-Times, Touloukian "believed the low attendance number meant 'no opposition'."
Excuse me, but was Touloukian paying attention in 2003 when a huge number of people showed up to the City Council meeting when the ban on smoking in "public places" was introduced? Is she really so deluded as to think that all of the people who passionately opposed a ban on smoking in "public places" would have no objection to banning smoking in someone's personal vehicle? Did she not notice letters to the editor on November 9, November 4 and October 10 critical of the new smoking ban, as well as one on August 30 criticizing Indiana University's campus-wide smoking ban?
Of course, Touloukian does not believe there is "no opposition" to the expanded smoking ban. She was spinning the numbers at a poorly-publicized meeting. The Herald-Times search engine shows that the only advance notice of the meeting in the newspaper was published the same day it took place. In addition to being poorly-publicized, the meeting is mostly irrelevant. The Health Board is already decided on the issue, so why would anyone bother to attend a forum sponsored by them? In addition, no such ban has been introduced by the City Council or the County Commissioners. Mayor Mark Kruzan has openly expressed opposition to the ban in a chat on HeraldTimesOnline.com and on AM 1370's Afternoon Edition.
If Touloukian wanted to argue that a majority of people in Bloomington supported an expanded smoking ban, she might have a point based on the fact that the supporters of previous smoking bans have won municipal and county elections. To argue that there is "no opposition" to such a ban, when there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary, is simply dishonest.
However one feels about banning smoking in personal vehicles if a child is present, the people of Monroe County deserve better than to have their intelligence insulted by this kind of dishonesty. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes people distrust their government and give up on participating in the political process. Touloukian should either retract her comments and apologize or be removed from the Health Board.