Council To Introduce Tobacco Ban At City Recreation Areas

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Athens City Council is expected to introduce legislation to ban tobacco use in city parks and recreation areas.

The issue was first raised two weeks ago by resident Thaden Brient who told Council that he has observed a lot of cigarette smoking while spending time with his 9-year-old daughter in city parks, particularly the Southside Park on Dairy Lane.

On Monday, Councilman Steve Patterson said he plans to put forward legislation to not only ban tobacco use in parks, but all recreation areas in the city. This would also include parking lots and restrooms at recreation areas, picnic shelters, athletic fields, aquatic areas, concession areas, spectator stands and walking and hiking trails in the city.

The proposal would ban the use of lit tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars and pipes, but also ban all other forms of tobacco such as chewing tobacco.

The question of whether patrons could smoke or use tobacco in their private vehicles if parked in a recreation parking lot was raised. Patterson said it’s not the intention of the legislation to ban smoking in cars, although it would ban smoking in parking lots outside of a vehicle.

Patterson said that signs declaring the proposed tobacco ban would be installed at recreation areas in the city if passed. He said that the county passed a resolution in 2010 declaring recreation areas smoke free, however the resolution didn’t directly impact recreation areas in the city limits.

Patterson is also proposing adding tobacco product waste, such as cigarette butts, to the list of items that are considered litter. Therefore, someone who throws a cigarette butt down on a sidewalk or street could be charged with littering.

“It’s proven that smoking is dangerous and so we would like to not see it in our parks, we would like to not have to breath second-hand smoke and have our children seeing that activity associated with an otherwise very healthy activity of playing at the playground or engaging in soccer or softball or whatever the activity may be,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Cochran.

Patterson also emphasized that banning tobacco in recreation areas is a timely issue. He said that Ohio University plans to become a tobacco free campus starting with the 2015-16 academic year.