Coal City snuffs out smoking in parks

SMOKING IS NO longer permitted in Coal City’s public parks. Village trustees adopted an ordinance last week that prohibits the smoking of tobacco in the parks and established fines for those who violate the town code.
Ann Gill

    Light a cigarette in one of Coal City’s public parks and you just might end up paying a fine.
    Stating it is in the best interest of the community, the Coal City Village Board adopted an ordinance that prohibits smoking in village owned parks, as well as indoor and outdoor recreation facilities.
    Town officials say banning smoking of tobacco in municipal parks will protect the health of its residents, reduce litter, protect the environment, and enhance the experience of park patrons, participants and spectators.
    The concept of making the town’s parks smoke-free was initially presented by Trustee Tim Bradley, but there was no further discussion until December 2016 when Paula Goodwin with Grundy County’s No Tolerance Task Force approached the board with a proposal to go tobacco free in village parks.
    At the time, the board indicated it would take Goodwin’s request under advisement. On March 8 the board reviewed a smoke free park ordinance drafted by its attorney and in turn adopted the measure by a unanimous vote, with Trustee Neal Nelson absent.
    The smoke-free parks ordinance expands on previously established village code that followed the basics of the Smoke Free Illinois Act, which bans the use of tobacco products in public buildings.
    State law grants municipalities the authority to regulate smoking in public places in a manner no less restrictive than the terms of the act.
    By ordinance, smoking is defined as the carrying, inhaling, exhaling or burning of any kind of lighted or burning cigarette, cigar, pipe, hookah, weed, herb or other lighted tobacco product.
    The village considers a park to be any outdoor recreational venue owned by the community include gazebos, pavilions, playgrounds, decks, patios and within 15-feet of any entrance to a village-controlled building, structure or facility.
    Town leaders had the option to set aside a location within each of its parks as a designated smoking area, however it choose not to move forward with that option. Individuals who want to smoke while visiting a town park must go to a nearby parkway, so long as it’s not located within 15-feet of a structure.
    No smoking signs will be posted at the primary entrances to the parks. Town leaders say they will seeking a grant to cover those costs.
    Goodwin noted in her presentation to the board that such funds were available through the Grundy County Health Department.
    Violations of the ban are punishable by a fine of $50 for the first offense, $100 for a second violation and $250 for subsequent violations within one year of the first infringement.
Goodwin indicated that a number of local communities are considering the initiative, and others including Braidwood have already established smoke-free parks.
Coal City currently maintains five parks—Campbell Memorial Park, Lions Park, North Park, Tippleway Bike Path and the  Paws in the Park dog park. Any future parks established and maintained by the village would also be subject to the terms of the ordinance.