AVON LAKE — Avon Lake City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve two ordinances restricting tobacco use in the city.
The first ordinance, which goes into effect today, will prohibit tobacco use in all city parks, playgrounds and beaches. This includes traditional cigarettes, smokeless or chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes. Ward 4 Councilman David Kos said the goal is not for the city to make money on tickets, but to improve the air quality in time for widely attended events like the Fourth of July and the city’s upcoming bicentennial programs.
“We recognize this isn’t the biggest issue in the city, but we invite the public, we invite our residents, we invite other residents to come to our parks for our concerts that we have, the Fourth of July celebration,” he said. “What we’re offering are clean parks, clean water with the beaches, a nice environment.”
He said the city is aiming for voluntary compliance and will try to avoid giving tickets, instead enforcing it through signage, public service announcements and law enforcement officers alerting smokers to the new rules and giving them a chance to comply. If tobacco users ignore these measures, the ticket would be a minor misdemeanor, costing about $25.
The other tobacco-related ordinance will prohibit its use on all city property — except streets, sidewalks and tree lawns — for the public and city employees. It also includes traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes. This ban will go into effect Jan. 1, in order to give city employees time to complete smoking cessation programs, if they choose to do so. While the city is not forcing its employees to stop smoking, starting Jan. 1 they will have to leave city property to do so.
“I think that we’re going to see a lot of communities going (in) this direction,” Kos said. “We’re following the example of Wellington, Oberlin and Sandusky that have passed ordinances. And North Ridgeville has a citywide policy, so we are following those examples.”