The Racine Common Council has narrowly snuffed out a proposed outdoor smoking ordinance for recreational areas. The Council on Tuesday voted 7-6 to receive and file a proposal from the city’s Committee of the Whole, which would have directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance than banned smoking and smoking by-products from city parks and shelters, along with golf courses, beaches, and sports complexes.
Alderman Jim Kaplan, a Board of Health member, said the original intent was focused on children and overall health. Kaplan says other cities in Wisconsin and across the country have passed similar ordinances, although most of those have focused just on areas where children are present.
Other areas were added on to the Racine proposal though, and Alderman Ron Hart said it’s “crazy” to think the ordinance could ever be enforced. For example, Hart said there’s no police officer on Racine beaches, making it highly unlikely a ticket would be issued. He suggested that parents upset about someone smoking “should take their children to another area of the park, or ask the person to leave.”
Other members of the Common Council raised similar concerns. Alderman Jeff Coe said a better option might just be to post signs near bleachers and other areas where children might be playing.
The decision followed well over a year of the Racine Health Department gathering information to support creating an outdoor smoking ban.
Tom Karkow, WRJN