Smoke ban likely in city playgrounds

It’s more of an issue of when, not if.

The City of Warren Parks and Recreation Commission appears likely to ban smoking near some city playgrounds after a presentation and discussion during a meeting Tuesday.

Chris Synder, supervisor of prevention services at Beacon Light, was on hand to discuss the Young Lungs at Play program, which would provide signs marking designated areas as smoke free if a municipality installs tobacco-free zones.

He explained that the city can ban smoking in city playgrounds in one of three ways: ordinance, policy or resolution. Ordinance can add an enforcement arm to the new regulations as can resolution albeit in a weaker form. There is is no enforcement included if the regulation is adopted as policy.

“I think it’s great that the City of Warren is interested and thinking about the program,” Snyder said.

He explained that, if the city elects to participate in this program, signs to be posted at the designated tobacco-free zones would be provided at no cost to the city.

“We’re definitely interested,” said Commission Chairman Dennis Crandall.

Parks and Recreation Director Mary Ann Nau asked commission members if they were considering tobacco-free zones in just playground areas or parks generally.

Crandall said that, after discussion at a meeting last month, the focus would be “mainly playground areas. (I’m) not sure how we would enforce it anywhere else.” He said that just the presence of the sign could deter smoking at those locations.

Snyder said that placing the signs almost empowers those who see someone smoking in those areas to speak up.

Nau said the commission members should decide whether they wish to pursue the issue by ordinance, regulation or policy. Crandall asked the commission members to review the information provided in preparation of potentially making a decision in August.

Mark Zavinski, who serves on the commission, said “it’s the point of us saying we don’t want” smoking in those places.

Nau also suggested that the commission should consider which specific places they wish to make tobacco-free.