By Jill Keppeler
The Town of Niagara board voted unanimously Tuesday night to establish a policy banning smoking and tobacco use in town public recreation areas such as playgrounds, playing fields and parks.
"In the year 2015, we have a society that looks at smoking a lot differently that we used to. We know the effects of second-hand smoke," said town Supervisor Lee Wallace. "They're promoting health at those facilities. A lot of smoking taking place in those locations seems a little backward at this point in time."
Town Councilman Danny Sklarski credited Wallace for bringing the lack of such a policy to the board's attention.
"There are places now where you really shouldn't smoke, the park being one of them, especially around children," he said. "To subject them to second-hand smoke, it's not the right thing to do."
There will be a public hearing on the local law at the next board meeting at 7 p.m. July 21. After that, Wallace and Sklarski both said they expect it to be voted into local law.
"In the meantime, we're hoping that people will respect that we're anticipating this being passed," Wallace said. "Most people, I think, will agree it's a good thing to do."
The new policy complies with state law and also includes a ban on e-cigarettes. Many local communities have a similar policy. The penalty for noncompliance will include a fine, but Wallace said that offenders will be asked to extinguish cigarettes first.