Articles, Enrichment, Political

Athens City Council Discusses New Ordinance Prohibiting Tobacco Use in City’s Parks

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Monday night, Athens City Council discussed a new ordinance that would prohibit the use of all tobacco products in Athens’ parks, open spaces and nature preserves.

If this ordinance were to pass, all bike paths and parks, including parking lots and sidewalks, as well as the Athens Community Center grounds, would be declared tobacco-free. Persons disobeying this law would be charged with a $150 fee.

The disposal of any tobacco products would also be considered littering, and would result in a citation of $150.

Under this amendment, all forms of tobacco such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco and snuff, would be prohibited. Electronic cigarettes were declared by City Council as the one exception to the new amendment due to a current lack of knowledge and information about the devices.

“At this point in time, as we all discussed, there’s not enough data out there yet to really kind of get our heads wrapped around e-cigarette use,” said Councilmember Steve Patterson.

To ensure clarity, each new smoke-free area would be properly labeled as such upon entrance, added Patterson.

As of now, smoking in your car would not be considered a violation if the ordinance were to pass. “This is only for someone who might be smoking a cigarette in the parking lot. Smoking in your car is fine under the current legislation,” said Patterson.

While there are currently only three cities in Ohio with smoke-free parks, the banning of tobacco in parks and recreational areas is not something new. “It’s been something that we’ve been seeing nationally. A lot of other states have enacted tobacco-free or smoke-free recreational areas,” said Patterson.

“I just think that it’s a smart decision for us as a community that really kind of embraces health and wellness to not have smoking and tobacco use in our city parks anymore,” concluded Patterson.

In addition to the smoke-free parks ordinance, Athens City Council again reviewed an ordinance requiring that residents keep all garbage containers and rubbish out of street view.

After referring to this Garbage and Rubbish Ordinance as “educational,” Councilmember Chris Fahl announced that she would like to, once more, alter the wording.

Despite the newest amendments of the ordinance, Fahl confirmed that a waiver process would still be included in the changes, along with a delayed enforcement date of June 1, 2015.


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