City to stop tobacco use at sports facilities

Published 5:12 am Monday, October 8, 2007

By By MIKE VOSS; Contributing Editor
During its meeting today, the Washington City Council is expected to adopt an ordinance to prohibit the use of any smokeless tobacco product at organized recreational youth athletic activities on city properties and/or properties leased by the city.
During its Sept. 17 meeting, the council tabled a proposal to curb tobacco use at city-owned properties where children’s athletic activities are taking place. During that meeting, the council said it wanted the city attorney to determine if an existing state law that prohibits smoking in and at public buildings also applies to public grounds such as athletic facilities and if it also restricts the use of smokeless tobacco products.
Councilman Archie Jennings believes amending the ordinance will remove any doubt concerning the use of tobacco products at such events. The existing ordinance “wasn’t quite as clear” on the issue as it could have been, he said.
Jennings believes the council will support the change.
The city should prohibit the use of tobacco products at it’s sports facilities when they are being used by young people because there is a “need to set a good example.”
Other city officials share similar views.
Adoption of the ordinance may not be the final action regarding the matter, according to a memorandum sent by Charles C. Edwards Jr. to Mobley and others. Edwards is a lawyer with Rodman, Holscher, Francisco &Pack, the law firm that serves as the city’s legal adviser.
In the memorandum, Edwards recommends the city interpret the existing ordinance to mean the city may prohibit smoking “on the field of play, in the dugout, on the bleachers, etc. and enforce the provision as such, forcing the public to challenge the City’s enforcement of the provision.” He also recommends the council amend the ordinance to add the provision prohibiting the use of smokeless tobacco in the same areas where smoking is prohibited.
In other business, the council is expected to consider implementing a six-month moratorium on outdoor advertising signs.
The council meets at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, located at 102 E. Second St.