A ban on the use of tobacco products in city parks will be forwarded to the Van Buren City Council for its consideration when aldermen meet April 17 at the Municipal Complex.
Members of the parks and recreation commission voted 5-0 Monday night to draft an ordinance for the council to consider.
The ban would include cigarettes, cigars and pipes, in addition to all smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco. It also includes ecigarettes and vapor products.
Commission chairman Michael Brammer and members Debbie Thomas, Tyler Wood, Doug Young and Brandy Mosby voted to send the measure to the council.
City Planner Joe Hurst said he would meet with City Attorney Candice Settle to draft the ordinance for the April 17 council meeting.
A proposed ordinance presented to the commission Monday night calls for a $25 fine for a first-offense violation of the ban, $50 for the second offense, $100 for the third offense and $250 for the fourth offense.
“The city council can change and add and edit and decrease and do everything that they want, but this is just the recommendation that we ban all tobacco use in city parks,” Hurst said.
The ban would not include Cedars Country Club, which is located on city park land but is leased property.
Field of Dreams Sports Complex has banned the use of tobacco products since 2000, Hurst pointed out.
Young said he supported banning all tobacco products due to the mess often produced by smokeless tobacco products.
“There are a lot of folks who will make sure they have a way to dispose their saliva, tobacco juice, whatever you want to call it, but that’s not most folks,” Young said. “They’re going to look around and find them a place, and some care and some don’t.”
The bottom line, Thomas said, is that the proposed ordinance will help create a clean environment.
Jerry Duncan of Van Buren was the only citizen to speak at Monday’s public hearing.
Duncan said he opposed the ban because it would take away his rights as a smoker who fishes at Lake Cap Bedell in the Dr. Louis Peer Memorial City Park.
“I am not going to spend three hours fishing at the park and not smoke,” he said. “I will get arrested and then will have to go somewhere else to fish. If I am upset that my rights have been taken away, I will vote against taxes.”
Duncan said he respects the rights of non-smokers but wants his rights as a smoker respected.