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Gresham resident wants to ban smoking in city parks

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Cigarette butts litter the ground at Greshams Nadaka Nature Park. Lee Dayfield would like to put an end to this with a city-wide ban on smoking in parks. Lee Dayfield, the woman credited with turning Nadaka Nature Park from seldom-used land to a delightful play space and nature center, is asking Gresham city councilors to ban smoking in all city-owned parks.

“Nadaka Park is being heavily used by adults and children and the second-hand smoke and cigarette butts are a real problem,” Dayfield said in a letter to the Gresham mayor and council. “There is also a lot of concern about fire starting in the forest as a result of smokers disposing of their lighted cigarettes.”

Dayfield said there are 582 parks in Oregon that are smoke and tobacco free, including, as of July 1, all city of Portland parks, natural areas, trails, golf courses and the Portland International Racetrack.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” Dayfield said. “There’s a myriad of reasons not to allow it and I think Gresham should jump on the bandwagon. I don’t see any downside to it.”

Dayfield believes Gresham should follow in Portland’s footsteps. The Portland City Council enacted a smoking and tobacco ban, joining more than 500 cities and towns nationwide that have laws mandating smoke-free parks.

The ban includes clove cigarettes, e-cigarettes, nicotine vaporizers, hookahs, pipes, chew, snuff and marijuana. Portland’s primary method of enforcement is education, but police also have the ability to issue citations.

Dayfield plans to submit a sample policy ordinance to the council at its meeting on 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, at City Hall, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway.

Part of the policy says that tobacco use in the proximity of children and adults “is detrimental to their health and can be offensive.” She would not advocate for enforcement through citations, but rather Dayfield thinks that having a smoking ban in place would empower residents to ask a person to leave if they are smoking in a park.

She added that the parks maintenance crew spends hours picking up discarded cigarette butts. At Nadaka, Dayfield filled empty coffee cans with sand to serve as ash trays, but barely anyone used them, or they were often knocked over, so Dayfield ended up removing them.

“The facts are there and I think it’s a very positive thing for the city to do,” Dayfield said. “We’re kind of behind the game as far as getting it passed in Gresham, but it’s probably because no one has come forward” and asked for it.