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New Carlisle 1st in Clark County to create smoke-free zones in parks

New Carlisle is the first jurisdiction in Clark County to establish tobacco free zones in all city parks and facilities.

Council members unanimously approved a resolution this week that requires smokers to be 20 feet from playground equipment, restrooms, athletic fields, tennis courts, volleyball courts, swimming pools, special event venues, spectator and concession areas. The shelter house isn’t included.

The measure is a compromise that allows smokers to use some park areas after some council members objected to a complete ban as too much government regulation.

City Manager Randy Bridge, who is a smoker, urged council members to support the revised resolution, saying that he learned to smoke as a child.

“That is exactly when I learned. This is very important for the overall health of our community. Not only now, but in the future,” Bridge said.

The city will begin enforcing the resolution May 17, Bridge said.

Vice Mayor John Krabacher previously said the distance requirement was added to the resolution as part of a compromise among council members who had rejected a proposal to ban smoking in all New Carlisle parks, except for renters within 20 feet of the shelter house in Smith Park.

“It brings in a healthier atmosphere not only for us adults, but it also brings in a healthier atmosphere for kids,” Krabacher said.

Smokers who violate the smoke-free zones could be asked to leave parks, council members said, but won’t face fines or other penalties.

The smoking resolution comes as part of a joint effort between the city of New Carlisle and the Clark County Combined Health District’s Creating Healthier Communities initiative.

Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said the health district is also in discussions with the National Trail Parks and Recreation District to establish smoke-free zones in its parks.

Patterson praised New Carlisle Council members for supporting smoke-free zones in city parks.

“If we restrict the places where the kids are normally going to be, the kids can play and they don’t have people standing right there smoking and causing the second-hand smoking that we know is detrimental to human health,” Patterson said.

He told council members he understood their concern about protecting the rights of all residents.

But advised them that after the Smoke Free Workplace Act went into effect several years ago, emergency visits for cardiac issues dropped in Ohio because people weren’t able to smoke as many cigarettes.

“We actually saw positive health effects from that,” Patterson said.

While smoking is still allowed in the park, he said health officials hope the smoke-free zones will cause them to use tobacco less.

Jenna Harrah, who visited Smith Park this week, said she agrees with the smoking restrictions.

“I know that I wouldn’t want to be sitting at the park with my child and have a bunch of people smoking around it and him being around the tobacco products,” Harrah said,

New Carlisle Councilman Ethan Reynolds said he was against completely banning smoking in city parks because he doesn’t believe in a “nanny state.”

“I didn’t want to take the rights and liberties from someone who smokes,” Reynolds said. “So what we did was put a ban around playground equipment at 20 feet. It’s a large enough area so that those parents who take their children to the park can watch their kids and perform any activity they want to do with their child in city parks without having to be at the house wondering: ‘Is my kid OK?’”

The resolution puts New Carlisle at the forefront of establishing a healthier community in Clark County, Councilman Lowell McGlothin said.

Councilman Bill McIntire supported a complete smoking ban, but said the resolution is a compromise that allows all people to continue to enjoy city parks.

He said the resolution provides options for non-smokers, who face a hardship would be forced to breathe second-hand smoke around those areas, and smokers who can still use tobacco products in certain areas.

“This doesn’t ban a person. It bans an activity. There’s a big difference,” McIntire said.

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