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Smoking ban in city parks to start in August

Acting on a recommendation from its parks commission and local health and anti-smoking advocates, the council agreed to ban smoking in city parks ? and began talking about taking further steps to limit the public?s exposure to second-hand smoke.

Noting that downtown?s Putnam Plaza ? where many smokers congregate ? is subject to the ban but the sidewalk and alleyway adjacent to it are not, some council members said the city should explore widening the no-smoking zone.

Councilmember Tiffany Ren? questioned a provision of the law that allows smoking in the parking lots of city parks.

?I don?t think that addresses exposure to children,? one of the parks commission?s concerns in recommending the ban, Ren? said.

She also raised the issue of smokers on public sidewalks, saying they create a constant cloud of second-hand smoke for anyone walking in their footsteps.

?It?s very difficult to get around people who are walking and smoking,? Ren? said. ?At some point, I?d like to see that addressed.?

Other council members said the parks-only ban is ?a good first step? for the city. Others said they support the ban, but questioned whether the city has enough resources to enforce it.

The county health department offered assistance with enforcement, such as providing tear-off warning cards that police could use to warn smokers before the ban goes into effect in August.

?Implementation is not impossible,? Vice Mayor Teresa Barrett said. ?The idea is to come down fast, come down hard, come down early.?

Smokers in parks could be fined $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second violation. The city plans to use $5,000 of its parks maintenance budget for posting and updating signs to reflect the smoking ban.

(Contact Corey Young at corey.young@arguscourier.com)


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