Medford council snuffs out smoking in parks

Smoking will be banned from Medford parks and other city facilities, the City Council decided Thursday.

On a unanimous vote, the council passed an ordinance that makes city-owned properties tobacco- and smoke-free.

"There will be no second-hand smoke in parks," Councilor Eli Matthews said.

He said Medford is the 902nd community in the nation to pass a smoking ban and the 16th in the state.

The only exception will be a designated smoking area at U.S. Cellular Park.

Anyone violating the smoking and tobacco ban would be subject to a fine of up to $250.

Existing signs in parks will soon have additional decals installed alerting residents that smoking is not permitted.

The ordinance bans lighted tobacco products, lighted tobacco paraphernalia as well any other lighted plant material. Excluded items include lighted pipes, hookahs, cigars and cigarettes. Also, any device such as electronic cigarettes are prohibited.

The ban includes substances containing tobacco leaf, including cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco or other preparations containing tobacco.

Rich Rosenthal, Medford recreation superintendent, said the ban will not only clear the air, but help clean keep the grounds clean.

"I've noticed a surprising amount of smoking at U.S. Cellular Park and at the Santo Community Center," he said. "Not only do I see people smoking, but I've seen evidence of quite a bit of cigarette butts in the landscaping. It is unsightly and thoughtless."

Rosenthal said the smoking ban is part of the Parks and Recreation Department's core mission of promoting healthy lifestyles and provide healthy facilities for people to use.

The ban extends to the 10 buildings owned by the city, including City Hall and the grounds around it.

Rosenthal said city crews will be installing the decals on existing signs as soon as possible. Any new signs ordered by the city will include the prohibition against smoking and tobacco, he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

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