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Rockland considers smoking ban for city parks

By Stephen Betts | Aug 06, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts Harbor Park in Rockland would be one of the locations where smoking would be banned under a proposed city ordinance.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council will consider banning smoking on all city parks and recreational fields.

The proposal was put forth Monday evening, Aug. 5, by Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee Chair Sarah Austin.

The ordinance faces a preliminary vote at the City Council's Aug. 12 meeting. If approved, a public hearing and final vote would be held in September.

The proposed ordinance states "Smoking, vaping, and the use of all tobacco and electronic smoking devices is prohibited in all parks, recreational areas and sporting venues, and public buildings."

There is currently a patchwork of rules on smoking in city parks. Austin said. This ordinance would make a prohibition in parks more understandable, she said.

Smoking is already banned by state law in public buildings.

A first violation would result in a warning. A second violation during a one-year period would result in being banned from the premises where the violation occurred for six months. A third or subsequent violation during the year would incur a one-year ban from the premises.

The proposed ordinance notes that there is no safe level of second-hand smoke.

The prohibition would include Harbor and Buoy parks.

City Councilor Valli Geiger, while not arguing against the measure, pointed out a counter argument against such a ban would be that it could disproportionately affect the poor, who are more likely to smoke. She said the children of parents who smoke may end up not going to city parks or beaches because of the ban.

Molly Stone from the Pen Bay YMCA, which operates the city's recreation program, said a strong ordinance sets a good model to help future generations. She pointed out there has been a sharp increase in nicotine addiction through the use of e-cigarettes.

Councilor Amelia Magjik voiced support for the ordinance, saying it was similar to the plastic bag ban, in which there would be long-term benefit to the community. Magjik also said she would not enable people's addictions.

Councilor Ed Glaser said this is the type of ordinance that calls for a workshop where there would be time for public input to shape the proposed law.

Last month, the city of Brunswick approved an ordinance that prohibits smoking and vaping between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. along Maine Street from Bath Road to the Androscoggin River; within 20 feet of school or public bus stops; within 20 feet of town-owned facilities and grounds, including sidewalks; all parks including the mall and Parks and Recreation-owned or -operated facilities, according to the Times Record newspaper.

The penalty for the Brunswick ordinance is a verbal warning for the first offense, and if a second violation occurs within 90 days of the warning, the offender can be charged with a civil violation that comes with a fine up to $50.

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Comments (6)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 08, 2019 09:02

Time goes on and the City council as always busies themselves with useless ordinances that distract from the real issue of looking to increase revenues so we don't have to raise taxes again.  Are they working on anything that will make us money ?  Smoking ban, (Police officer to man on the street: " excuse me sir is that a cigarette or a joint in your hand ? ") accepting park donations . Could we find something meaningful to work on ?

Posted by: Dayna D Small | Aug 07, 2019 09:47

About time.

Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Aug 07, 2019 07:52

A solution in search of a problem...

We get the benefit of living in San Francisco without the hills!  I can't wait to be under total control of the the city and state so I can stop thinking and caring for myself.  What a serene feeling to know people smarter than I are in charge of my life.

Posted by: Scott David Herrick | Aug 06, 2019 17:14

Too bad the folks that smoke couldn’t find a better way to dispose of their butts than just tossing them out their windows or on the ground line that’s cool, they are everywhere you look around town. Francis, I like the redemption!!

Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Aug 06, 2019 15:41

I didn't realize that there wasn't a ban already in place.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Aug 06, 2019 14:32

Another toothless ordinance. Like the Rockland PD is going to look for people smoking in a park. They don't even bother with cars parking on sidewalks unless somebody calls it in. Here's an idea. Put a returnable deposit on cigarette butts and maybe that will eliminate a lot of the litter in the parks and on the streets. Cigarette butts are litter. You ever seen anyone arrested for tossing a butt or dumping their ash tray on the street?  I doubt if you will. Why waste time making rules that are not enforced.

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