County of­fi­cials ap­prove to­bacco ban at parks

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON deverson@cov­news.com

Parks and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties in the county will soon pro­hibit the use of to­bacco prod­ucts on its premises.

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mously ap­proved at their meet­ing Tues­day an or­di­nance that would ban to­bacco use in the prox­im­ity of chil­dren and adults vis­it­ing New­ton County-owned or op­er­ated parks and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties. Ac­cord­ing to the or­di­nance, to­bacco use in th­ese ar­eas is detri­men­tal to chil­dren and adults’ health and can be of­fen­sive to those us­ing th­ese fa­cil­i­ties.

The ap­proved or­di­nance is sched­uled to go into ef­fect on April 1, 2013.

The or­di­nance was first pre­sented by New­ton County Recre­ation Com­mis­sion di­rec­tor Tommy Hai­ley and other mem­bers of the recre­ation com­mis­sion

at a county work ses­sion in Novem­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to the or­di­nance, to­bacco use would be pro­hib­ited in all in­door and out­door parks and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties at all times. It will be un­law­ful for any per­son to use any form of to­bacco, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to cigarettes, E-cigarettes and smoke­less to­bacco in all ar­eas of county-owned or op­er­ated in­door and/or out­door parks and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to re­strooms, ath­letic fields, rivers, parks, walking/hik­ing trails, agency-owned ve­hi­cles and spec­ta­tor and con­ces­sion ar­eas.

Jenny Carter, with the county at­tor­ney’s of­fice, said the or­di­nance was iden­ti­cal to the one that was pre­sented in the work ses­sion, but also in­cluded the Cov­ing­ton Square Park as one of the parks that would pro­hibit smok­ing and added the April 1, 2013, ef­fec­tive date.

Hai­ley thanked the board for al­low­ing the NCRC to present them with the to­bacco ban or­di­nance and stressed its im­por­tance. He also ex­plained that the or­di­nance has been looked over by the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health.

“Our goal once again is to take this — if you do ap­prove it — and really put some im­pact and dis­cour­age the youth of our county and teach them about the dis­ad­van­tages of us­ing to­bacco.”

“The at­tor­neys for the state de­part­ment of health have re­viewed this and given their ap­proval of it,” Hai­ley said. “What that means — with their ap­proval — is that now we can qual­ify to sub­mit for some grant money to get the money for the nec­es­sary sig­nage, brochures and other in­for­ma­tion we need to get out to make sure we get those to the parks and get that dis­trib­uted at the proper time to ed­u­cate the pub­lic.”

The no­ti­fi­ca­tion and en­force­ment sec­tion of the or­di­nance states that the com- mu­nity, fa­cil­ity users and staff will be no­ti­fied about the pro­hi­bi­tion of the use of to­bacco prod­ucts, that ap­pro­pri­ate signs will be posted in all parks and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties where to­bacco is pro­hib­ited and that the New­ton County Recre­ations Com­mis­sion will de­velop an ed­u­ca­tional cam­paign to as­sist in in­form­ing ci­ti­zens about the pol­icy pro­hibit­ing to­bacco use.

It also states that the staff will pe­ri­od­i­cally ob­serve parks and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties to mon­i­tor for com­pli­ance and that vis­i­tors found us­ing to­bacco prod­ucts will be asked to re­frain from such use while on parks/recre­ation prop­erty or leave the premises and that if they refuse, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers will be con­tacted to es­cort the per­son off the premises or cite the per­son for tres­pass­ing in case the per­son re­fuses to leave the prop­erty.

Though the or­di­nance was ap­proved by com­mis­sion­ers, Julie An­der­son a mem­ber of the Con­sumer Ad­vo­cates for Smoke-free Al­ter­na­tives As­so­ci­a­tion and Bar­bra Malen­fant, who drove from Au­gusta, ad­dressed the com­mis­sion­ers dur­ing the cit­i­zen’s com­ments por­tion of the meet­ing about pro­hibit­ing E-cigarettes.

“I would re­quest that any or­di­nance that bans smok­ing not in­clude smoke-free prod­ucts such as elec­tronic cigarettes and smoke­less to- bacco nei­ther of which has been proven to be of dan­ger or cause sec­ond-hand smoke,” An­der­son said. “I smoked two packs a day for 35 years, and if it weren’t for th­ese I’d still be a smoker.”

“There is no harm in sec­ond-hand smoke. Be­ing out­side va­p­ing is like go­ing into your kitchen and boil­ing a pan full of spaghetti and in­hal­ing va­por from the food that’s cooked,” Malen­fant said. “To in­clude it in to­bacco free out­side recre­ation is ridicu­lous.”

Com­mis­sion­ers did not speak on the ci­ti­zens com­ments. The or­di­nance was not changed.

For a list­ing of county parks in­cluded in this ap­proved or­di­nance visit Cov­News.com.

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