Parks and Rec Commission closer to smoking ban at city playgrounds

Playgrounds within the City of Warren are one step closer to being smoke-free zones.

Chris Snyder, supervisor of prevention services for Beacon Light Behavioral Health, returned to the city Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday seeking its decision on whether to forward a recommendation to city council on establishing tobacco bans through the Young Lungs at Play program.

“I think the general consensus of the whole group is we’d like to see this move forward,” Chairman Dennis Crandall said.

Through the Young Lungs at Play program, a community passes a comprehensive ban on tobacco use in city playgrounds and, sometimes, other areas children frequent. In return, the program provides free signage to put in place denoting the ban.

“Overall, the response has been positive in the communities where it has passed,” Snyder answered when questioned on how the program has worked in areas where it has been put in place.

The ban can be put into place three ways: through policy, which provides no enforcement; a formal resolution, which provides some enforcement ability, or through a formal ordinance, which provides stronger enforcement capability.

“That decision, as far as a resolution or ordinance, that would be up to council,” Crandall said.

City Manager Nancy Freenock noted an ordinance would be preferable from an enforcement standpoint.

The city already has an ordinance governing park usage, according to Parks and Recreation Director Mary Ann Nau, and the new provision could simply be added as an amendment to the existing ordinance.

Commission members agreed city staff should move forward with formulating an ordinance or amendment to the existing ordinance for review and eventual recommendation to city council.

As the commission has been working on the issue since its June meeting, members agreed that, if an ordinance was ready in time, they would hold a special meeting on Sept. 3 in order to forward a recommendation in time for consideration at council’s Sept. 16 meeting.

Commission members will also be reviewing the current park ordinance, number 1802, for any other changes they would like to discuss at the special meeting for possible recommendation to council.