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Escanaba City Council Approves Smoking Ordinance

An outdoor no-smoking cigarettes ordinance was approved by council Thursday for specific locations in Escanaba including parks where children are concentrated and city buildings.

Council voted 3-2 in favor of the amendment which prohibits smoking cigarettes within 100 feet of city buildings, nine playgrounds, six ballfields, the guarded beach area, Webster pool and two ice rinks.

Council members voting in favor of the proposal were Pat Baribeau, Mayor Gilbert Cheves and Brady Nelson. Opposing the measure were Pete Baker and Leo Evans.

The issue was first considered by the city's Recreation Advisory Board after Recreation Director Tom Penegor was approached by the public health department to ban smoking cigarettes in areas where there are high concentrations of children. The health department offered $1,000 to pay for no-smoking cigarettes signs in designated areas.

The proposal was also recommended by the Citizens' Environmental Advisory Committee and the Escanaba Planning Commission, said City Manager Jim O'Toole.

The first reading of the smoking cigarettes ban proposal took place June 2, followed by a public hearing on June 16 and an additional public hearing on Thursday. The majority of comments received at the two hearings supported the ban for the sake of children. Those opposing the proposal expressed concern for the rights of smokers.

Penegor explained the ordinance prohibits smoking cigarettes within 100 feet of public buildings and specific locations where children are because of the harmful affects of second-hand smoke, the amount of cigarette butts discarded by smokers, and children watching adults smoke cigarettes nearby.

Council member Nelson said the issue concerns the quality of life in the city especially for children. Adults have a choice to smoke cigarettes but children do not have a choice when they are around smokers, he added.

O'Toole explained the ordinance will be enforced with a $50 fine to violators and will likely be self-enforced by concerned adults in the affected areas. Escanaba's Smoke Free Outdoor Air Ordinance prohibits the smoking cigarettes of cigars, cigarettes, or pipes within 100 feet of outdoor city-owned or leased property or buildings, excluding private property which falls within this area.

City playgrounds included in the ban are Harbor Hideout, Royce Playground, Rose Playground, Stephenson Playground, Jefferson Playground, Veterans Playground, Beach Playground, Westside Playground, and Sylvan Point Playground.

Also included in the ban are the guarded beach area and beach house, Webster pool and ice rink, and Royce ice rink. Ball fields specifically listed under the proposed ordinance are Al Ness, Lemerand, Veterans, Stephenson, Dickson, and Bay Soccer Field.

Smoking will not be allowed within 100 feet at city hall, the library, public safety, public works, the power plant, the water plant, the wastewater plant, civic center, Webster shelter house, Royce shelter house, and the Downtown Development Authority center court area.

Only the areas specifically mentioned above are included in the city ordinance banning no-smoking cigarettes within a 100-foot perimeter.