Smoking and tobacco ban in Forest Grove parks, city-sponsored events prompts … – The Oregonian

A proposed ban on smoking and tobacco use in public parks and city-sponsored events sparked questions among Forest Grove Parks and Recreation commissioners over the new policy’s scope.

The commission held the first of several public hearings on the issue Thursday night. Parks director Tom Gamble and Washington County tobacco prevention coordinator Carla Bennett spoke before the commission. They cited health and littering concerns as reasons for the proposed ban.

The proposed city code change would ban smoking and tobacco use in city-owned buildings, parking lots, parks and recreation areas, and city-sponsored events. It covers “cigarettes, cigars, pipes, grass, plant, plant-product, liquid, vapor, electronic smoking devices and smokeless tobacco,” according to the draft ordinance. 

The ban would require signage around public parks and cost the parks department roughly $1,000.

Forest Grove would join 56 other cities and counties in Oregon that have implemented similar limitations on smoking and tobacco use in public parks.

“The trend is clear,” Gamble said. “It’s something we have to consider.”

Though Forest Grove Police Chief Janie Schutz did not attend the meeting, Gamble said she “assured [parks] staff that the police department is interested in this.”

Gamble said he has received letters in support from Adelante Mujeres, the education nonprofit that runs the Forest Grove Farmers Market, and representatives of Pacific University. The university is considering its own smoking ban.

Three people testified in favor of the ban, with one person expressing concerns over whether the ban could be adequately enforced.

The proposal will make its way from the commission to the City Council by May. Gamble said he expects the ban, if approved, to start in June.

The commission will host another hearing on the ban April 16 at 7 a.m. at the Community Auditorium.

Check back Friday for more on tonight’s meeting.

— Edwin Rios 

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