City may curb tobacco use at sports facilities, Proposed rule would be applied at city properties

Published 12:38 am Saturday, September 15, 2007

By By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
The use of tobacco products at organized recreational youth athletic activities at city-owned properties or city-leased properties may be restricted, if not prohibited, in the near future.
Washington’s City Council, at its meeting Monday, will consider an ordinance that would implement such a ban.
The memorandum states that city staff members concur with the committee’s recommendation.
City Manager James C. Smith said the council, if it decides to pursue such an ordinance, likely would set the date for a public hearing on the proposed regulation. That date could be set at Monday’s meeting, he said.
The proposed ordinance may not be needed because an existing section of the city’s codes may provide the city the authority needed to restrict tobacco-use at city facilities where youth athletic events take place, Smith said. City Attorney Franz Holscher was researching that matter Friday, Smith said.
The ordinance would not prohibit the use of tobacco products at city parks such as Havens Gardens or city athletic facilities as long as youth athletic events are not taking place, Smith said.
Across the nation, policies restricting or banning the use of tobacco products at or near public parks, schools and athletic events involving youth are increasing, Smith said.
Throughout the nation, some counties and youth-sports leagues have adopted policies prohibiting or restricting tobacco use at youth athletic events and facilities. In Carroll County, Md., the use of tobacco products immediately before, during or immediately after recreation-council sponsored youth activities is prohibited within 50 yards of the playing field or program site. The California Youth Soccer Association discourages tobacco use within 25 yards of any association-affiliated activity involving youth players.
Several years ago, according to Mobley’s memorandum, the Parks and Recreation Department, following a recommendation by the committee, assisted youth sports leagues in amending their bylaws to include a general rule prohibiting tobacco use by any coach and/or bench personnel on the field of play or in the dugout/bench areas.
The memorandum notes that all public schools in North Carolina will be tobacco-free next year and that some schools already have tobacco-free athletic facilities.
The council meets at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St.