OGDENSBURG Some City Council members are interested in snuffing out smoking in municipal parks.
Councilor Daniel E. Skamperle raised the issue at last Mondays council meeting.
I think weve gotten a lot of complaints by citizens who are trying to enjoy the playground with their children, he said. People are smoking around them and children are breathing in the smoke.
In 2009, the council rejected a resolution that would have banned smoking in public parks. Mayor William D. Nelson supported resurrecting the measure.
I think its time to go back and look at the tobacco-free parks policy, he said. Mostly it is a respect thing.
Councilor Wayne L. Ashley said the smoking ban would be an unenforceable overextension of government power.
We dont need to be putting any more laws on the books that cant be enforced, he said. The police department has enough to enforce without checking for smoking in parks. I think government sometimes seems to go too far, and I wouldnt support this.
At Mondays meeting, Councilor R. Storm Cilley worried that banning smoking in parks would only push tobacco users elsewhere, citing the tobacco bans at public schools and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center. He pointed out that employees and visitors moved to nearby properties to smoke.
All wed be doing is moving the problem onto private property, he said. I dont think Im in favor of totally smoke-free parks.
Mr. Skamperle said the council could forge a compromise.
I think of it as less of a ban on the park area itself and a ban around the playground and picnic areas, he said. The problem with it is that it is difficult to enforce. I think if we could just get some signs up saying this is a tobacco-free zone, perhaps they can be self-policing.
The council will discuss the policy at a committee-of-the-whole meeting at 7 p.m. July 30.