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Burlington passes tobacco-free parks law

Posted Jan 16, 2019 at 5:18 PM Updated Jan 16, 2019 at 6:31 PM

No smoking, dipping, vaping in park areas, including sidewalks, parking lots; goes into effect April 1, comes with potential $50 fine

The Burlington City Council approved an ordinance banning tobacco use in all city parks and adjacent public areas, including parking lots, sidewalks and bus stops.

Tobacco use, including vaping, would be prohibited on all park property, including parking lots, adjoining sidewalks and bus stops, as well as the Depot and Paramount Theater areas.

Kacie Lynch with the Alamance County Wellness Collaborative, along with 11 others, spoke in favor of the item, citing concerns for pet and children safety, second-hand smoke, contamination from littered cigarettes, the beauty of the parks and overall health for citizens.

There were concerns about how staff would enforce the ordinance. City Manager Hardin Watkins said staff can fine someone $50 for breaking the ordinance but added that the city does not want to do that. It aims for voluntary compliance from residents and visitors.

“Our interest is compliance, not punishment,” Watkins said. “This gives a tool to our Recreation and Parks staff to say, ‘Are you aware there is an ordinance?’ It also empowers other park users to do the same.”

The council unanimously approved the ordinance, which goes into effect April 1.