9/8/2017 6:56:00 PM New Castle is going smoke-free
Kevin L. Green, Courier-Times
The City of New Castle is going smoke-free.
The move to prohibit smoking on city-owned property isn’t a done deal, but the New Castle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance on first reading earlier this week that will make it illegal to smoke in city-owned buildings and on most city-owned properties, including local parks and South Mound Cemetery.
Ordinance 3772 notes that smoking tobacco is a major cause of cancer and lung disease and adversely impacts an individual’s health, and that second-hand smoke from tobacco products has an adverse impact on the heath of those around it. It also states the council has an obligation to provide its citizens with public places that do not expose them to harm.
With those points in mind, the ordinance prohibits smoking on all property owned, maintained or managed by the City of New Castle. More specifically, smoking is prohibited in all structures owned by, maintained by or managed by the City of New Castle including city offices, city department buildings, city-owned restrooms, the cemetery office, structures located in public parks and city garages – and within 25 feet of the entrances to any of the above.
The smoking ban also includes city park land, the Aquatic Center at Baker Park, the city’s new skate park, horseshoe facilities at city parks, basketball courts at city parks, all baseball diamonds and softball diamonds at city parks, tennis courts at city parks, all playgrounds on city parks, the pickle ball courts, South Mound Cemetery and its West Lawn addition, the New Castle Armory, the Senior Center and Community Center at Main and Broad Street and in all city-owned vehicles.
The measure also includes enforcement provisions. It states any person violating this ordinance will first be asked to extinguish their cigarette, cigar or pipe. If the individual refuses to do so, he or she will be asked to leave the premises. If the individual refuses to leave the city-owned property, the individual will receive a citation to appear before the New Castle City Court.
If the violator refuses to stop smoking and refuses to leave the city property, or engages in repeated violations, he or she shall be removed from city property by law enforcement officers or other properly identified city officials and shall be considered trespassers. Such violations will be subject to criminal prosecution for trespass.
First-time offenders will be fined $50; each subsequent offense will result in a $100 fine.
Prior to a vote on the proposed measure, council member Jeff Hancock voiced concern about the measure.
“I’m not a smoker, but I feel for the person that smokes who has to go out in the middle of a rain (to smoke),” he said. Other council members also shared their concerns about possibly violating smokers’ rights.
“I don’t smoke, but I just think it takes too many people’s rights away,” Mary Brewington said.
Mayor Greg York weighed in regarding someone smoking on city property but while in their personal vehicles.
“We don’t want to see somebody at the Little League diamonds leaning over the fence smoking, but if he gets in his car and he’s trying to be as private as he can possibly be, it’s taking rights away from him. We’ve got police officers who need to be on the street ... not driving through parking lots trying to find somebody in their car smoking.”
City attorney David Copenhaver suggested the ordinance be amended to exclude people smoking in their own vehicles and to allow city employees to smoke in designated outdoor areas.
Council member Aaron Dicken made a motion to approve 3772 as amended and the motion passed unanimously.
A second reading is expected when the council next meets at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 on the second floor of the municipal building at 227 N. Main St. That meeting is open to all interested persons.