Greenwood cracking down on smoking in parks

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Greenwood, IN (June 16, 2015) - Smokers in Greenwood could soon notice a crackdown on lighting up in city parks.

The Greenwood City Council voted Monday night to add a new measure to the existing ban on smoking on city property.  The new rule would give full time city parks employees the authority to write $50 tickets to those who refuse to stop smoking when asked to do so.

The vote followed several smoking-related incidents on the day of the opening of the new Freedom Springs water park.  Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said there have been problems with people smoking while waiting in line to enter the water park.

“The first day, we had four different mulch fires that the lifeguards had to run out and try to put out with water,” Myers said.

The other problem, Myers said, is smokers who go out for a smoke break in the parking lot and leave cigarette butts behind.  The parking lot is on city property, where smoking is already banned.

“It’s hard on us because then we have to have our lifeguards come out and clean out those mulch beds and clean up the parking lots because it does look trashy,” Myers said.

The new rule will only apply to full time parks employees because city officials don’t want to put younger, summer employees in an awkward position of giving a smoker a ticket.

“The process is ask them.  If they won’t, or if they give the employee a hard time, we can give them a written warning.  And then once that written warning is done, then the next step would be an actual citation, a city ordinance violation ticket,” Myers said.

While Freedom Springs appears to be the focal point of the new measure, it will apply to all city parks and property.

“We have that issue with our own city employees who still smoke,” Myers said.  “They know they can’t smoke on city property so you’ll see them walk across the street into another lot to have a cigarette on a smoke break.”

It’s just the latest smoking-related crackdown for the city of Greenwood this month.  On June 1, the council voted to add e-cigarettes to the city’s existing ban on smoking in public places.  The new rules don’t change the ban on smoking on city property.  But they do give parks employees the ability to enforce the ban if they need to.

Margaret Whitney, who is a non-smoker, thinks the ticket idea is a good one.

“I’m for smoke-free stuff,” she said.  “So, if that’s what you’ve got to do, Some people are pretty hard headed on those issues.”

Of course, she’s not sure what her husband, who is a smoker, will think of the new rule.

“He probably wouldn’t like it,” she said.  “But then, we butt heads on that.  Butt heads, get it?”

Matthew King had just finished a smoke break in the Freedom Springs parking lot when we spoke to him.  He wasn’t aware that smoking out in the parking lot was a violation of city ordinance.  But he thinks the new rule could be a good thing.

“I do kind of feel like I’m far enough away,” King said.  “But then again, I do understand you do have a lot of kids around here.  I personally don’t want to influence any kids into smoking.”

Myers said he hopes to have about ten full time parks employees trained in the next week or so.  The enforcement will begin as soon as that training is complete.