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Town of Niagara may ban tobacco use at recreational areas

TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Town Board is looking to make all town recreational areas tobacco-free.

Supervisor Lee Wallace told the board at a work session Wednesday that he would like the town to take a proactive stand against the use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, at town recreational facilities such as playgrounds, playing fields and other areas.

“I want to be progressive and the front runner,” Wallace explained. If the board adopted the policy, the town would be the first in the area to make facilities smoke-free.

Wallace, whose years with the town include a lengthy tenure as recreation director, said he was in contact with representatives of Roswell Park Cancer Institute about the plan and said they were “ecstatic” about the idea. He said the town law would mirror state law which prohibits smoking all day at all recreational sites where anyone under 12 years is present. The state statute, which had been challenged since 2013 finally became law last December, he said.

He said he is looking for the policy to take effect July 1.

Town attorney Michael Risman was asked to review the statute and make recommendations on penalties and procedures. Risman said if the penalty was a criminal violation, the town would have more power to pursue violators than if it were a civil penalty.

According to the discussion, town law enforcement or recreation staff would advise anyone smoking to extinguish their implement. Repeat offenders would be issued a citation.

Wallace explained that for now, only recreational areas would be affected but he would consider expanding the law to include the entire park lands in the future.

In a related matter, Risman was requested to review the state law on alcohol permits so the provisions could be adopted for town use.

The board has been discussing how the town should regulate requests for alcohol permits by individuals or organizations that rent town facilities such as the community center or picnic shelters at Veterans Memorial Park.

The town is expected to adopt a local law to address the process.

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