Tonawanda News

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November 27, 2012

Park smoking 'ban' approved

Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — No-smoking “reminder” signs will be posted in Niagara County’s five parks next spring.

By a unanimous vote last week, county lawmakers agreed to let signs by the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition be placed in certain areas of county parks after Jan. 1, encouraging people to refrain from smoking around children.

Technically, the legislature adopted a policy declaring certain areas of county parks most frequented by children — recreation areas and restrooms — to be “tobacco free zones.”

Those certain areas are further defined as playgrounds, splash parks, athletic fields and the warming house at Bond Lake Park. According to the resolution approved by 13 legislators, those areas are to be considered “smoke free.”

Lawmakers passed a policy, not a law, however, so enforcement of tobacco free zones will be by “voluntary compliance” only, according to the resolution.

Enter a series of signs created by the anti-smoking coalition. The signs are not referenced in the resolution, but co-sponsors Bill Ross, C-Wheatfield, and Tony Nemi, I-Lockport, said county workers will be instructed to post signs next spring that “gently” encourage adults to refrain from smoking in child-frequented areas of parks.

Several varieties of signs will be provided, including one bearing the message, “young lungs at play.”

Two years ago, Nemi was one of a multi-partisan group of legislators who opposed declaration of smoke-free areas in county parks. At the time, the group worried that the signs read like declarations of a law banning smoking in parks, although no such law was on the books. Some lawmakers, including Nemi, feared “domestic type” situations erupting between smokers and non-smokers over the signs.

Nemi, who recently was appointed to the county Board of Health that strongly backed the resolution then and now, said his mind was changed by the coalition’s offer of different, “less confrontational” signs for the county.

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