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Washington City Council approves smoke-free places in local parks and playgrounds

GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske

The Washington City Council approved a smoke-free ordinance that prevents the smoking of cigarettes or e-cigarettes in a 30-foot radius of seven local parks and playgrounds.
GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske The Washington City Council approved a smoke-free ordinance that prevents the smoking of cigarettes or e-cigarettes in a 30-foot radius of seven local parks and playgrounds.

Seven parks and playgrounds have been designated as smoke-free places by the Washington City Council.

The smoke-free placement is a 30-foot radius of the furthest extent of City property and includes the use of electronic cigarettes. Signage will be placed to designate and alert the public to the smoke-free areas.

The council first discussed the possibility of designating smoke-free areas of parks at the council meeting on April 16. At that meeting, Washington Mayor Jaron Rosien said the Park Board looked at the plans and wanted to see a smoking ban in all parks because they felt 30 feet would be hard to regulate. He said he felt that would be an “overreach” and more difficult to enforce.

“They were thinking 30 feet is hard to enforce, but I kind of thought 30 feet is a measurement and it’s absolutely enforceable,” he said. “What’s not enforceable is ‘within a reasonable distance.’ What is a reasonable distance? Wording like that would not be enforceable. Working like within 30 feet is totally enforceable.”

City council member and Washington Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski said she felt this would be a positive step for the purpose of being health-conscious and agreed with Rosien that the 30-foot radius would be the best course of action.

“To me this is a visual. We want to remove children from smoke inhalation and (from) what we don’t know in vape aerosols. I feel like this is a step in the right direction,” she said.

The ordinance was then added to the following meetings and passed three readings before being adopted as an official ordinance at the council meeting on Tuesday, June 4.

The following places are now smoke-free:

• Northwest Shelter Playground, Sunset Park

• Rocket Slide Playground, Sunset Park

• South Boulevard Playground (Skate park), Sunset Park

• New Dawn Playground, Sunset Park

• Southeast Shelter Playground, Sunset Park

• North Park Playground

• Redlinger Field Playground

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Smoke-free Air Act was adopted in 2008 and regulates smoking in specified outdoor areas. Under the Smoke-free Air Act, smoking may be allowed in outdoor areas such as parking lots, golf courses and hiking trails.