JAMESTOWN – The use of tobacco and related products is now prohibited in all city of Jamestown property.
On Monday night the Jamestown City Council approved an amendment to the city code that bans smoking both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, along with the use of all other tobacco related products, from all city parks and public lands. That not only includes any and all areas of the various parks in the city, but also in any city-owned parking facilities and/or grounds, or while traveling in or operating any equipment and/or vehicles owned or leased by the city.
The fine for smoking on any city property will be $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense and $250 for the third or subsequent offenses.
The council voted 6 to 1 in favor of the amendment, with at-large councilman George Spitale voting against the measure, while both city council president Greg Rabb and Ward 5 council woman Maria Jones were absent.
Spitale said he made a decision to vote against he measure after hearing from constituents who were against the ban because it infringed on their rights.
“I received quite a few calls about it from veterans,” Spitale said following the vote. “One of the comments was, ‘I donated to the Veterans Park project and now you’re telling me I can’t go to that park, light a cigarette, smoke it, field strip and then put it in my pocket? And if I do I’m going to get a $50 fine?'”
“Another guy said we’re playing the role of big brother, like [former New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg did. Pretty soon the city will be telling us what size soda we should drinking,” Spitale said, alluding to New York City’s Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule of 2013.
Spitale also said he didn’t support ticketing and imposing a fine on people who broke the law because he felt the city police have more important things to focus on.
“We have enough problems in this city where the police don’t need to be arresting people for smoking,” he said.
Prior to the vote, two members of the public addressed the city council, saying they supported the measure. Ken Dahlgren with the Tri-County Tobacco Control Coalition said he supports the ban because it would help to improve public health.
“Recent Surgeon General reports have shown that there really is no safe level of second hand smoke, including exposure to outdoor second-hand smoke,” Dahlgren said. “I know sometimes we’re not even aware of the kinds of events that many people can’t attend [because of second hand smoke]. I know I can’t attend the city’s annual Labor Day Festival when there’s the amount of smoking that there is because it physically makes me ill.”
The only other person to publicly comment on the proposed ban was Shelly Wells with the Chautauqua County Health Network, who said that the smoking leads to a variety of health problems and given that the county has one of the highest rates of tobacco users in the state, the community needs to do what it can to try and reduce those numbers.
The tobacco ban will include the use of cigars; pipes; and cigarettes, including electronic cigarettes and vapor devices; and chewing tobacco. The ban will take effect immediately.