Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Tigard bans smoking in parks, city property, Tualatin not far behind

Tigard ban imposes $100 fine for first offense, $500 for second

FILE PHOTO - Smoking, including e-cigarettes, will be banned in Tigard parks starting in mid-February. The ban is meant to make parks healthier and get more people outside, city officials said.Looking to light up a cigarette next time you’re at the park or library? You could face a hefty fine.

Tigard and Tualatin city officials are working on bans against smoking in parks, along trails and on city-owned property.

On Tuesday, the Tigard City Council approved a plan, which will impose a $100 fine for a first offense and up to $500 in fines for subsequent violations within a 12-month period.

Tigard’s ordinance makes it illegal to smoke tobacco (cigars, cigarettes or pipes) or e-cigarettes in public parks, open spaces, on trails or in any city-owned or operated building, including City Hall and the Tigard Public Library.

The ban comes after city councilors said smokers were becoming a problem in the city, and potentially challenging the city’s plan of becoming the most walkable city in the Pacific Northwest by their unhealthy lifestyles.

Councilor John Goodhouse, who proposed the ban, said that keeping smoke out of the parks and city property will not only make parks and public spaces more beautiful, it will enable more people to use city amenities.

“You have people out walking, kids playing and running through a plume of smoke or see cigarette butts on the ground. It gives people the ability to be out here more because maybe there are people who don’t go to parks because they are afraid someone might be smoking next to them,” he said. “It makes it so all people are able to enjoy it.”

Smoking indoors is already banned in Oregon. Tigard’s vote would keep smokers from lighting up anywhere on city property, including parking lots. The ban would not stop smoking on private property or on city sidewalks.

TIMES FILES PHOTO - Tigard City Officials said that banning smoking from parks and city-owned property, such as the Tigard Public Library, constituted a public health matter.

'Waste of public resources,' opponents say

The plan wasn’t universally accepted. Elise Shearer, a longtime city volunteer, spoke out against the measure, saying that the city should not impose bans on legal pastimes in public spaces.

“This is highly unusual for me to protest against this issue,” she said. “I am an avid non-smoker who has seen the damage done to individuals by smoking. I’ve seen it affect their health and seen people die from it.”

Shearer said that the city can and should impose its smoking ban on city-owned property, such as the Tigard Public Library, but said that smokers have as much right to the parks as anyone else.

“Smokers use city parks and trails. They are taxpayers who help purchase parks and provide money to maintain our parks and trail systems,” she said. “They deserve considerations as voting citizens.”

The Tigard Police department has better things to do than patrol parks or city hall parking lots for smokers, Shearer argued.

“It’s a waste of public resources,” she said.

Councilors disagreed, saying that the ban was a matter of public health.

“I want to be sensitive to rights of smokers, but I have to weigh that against the significant public health considerations,” said Council President Jason Snider. “… I am not willing to let 85 to 88 percent of the public be negatively impacted by the 12 percent who, by their behavior, pollute other people’s air. That’s not the right thing to do.”

Portland, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Sherwood and the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District in Beaverton have all banned smoking in public parks.

Tigard Mayor John L. Cook said that imposing similar bans will help trail users, who expect their travels to be smoke-free.

“When you are on the trails, you don’t know what city you’re in if you cross to Durham or Tualatin,” Cook said. “This makes it a lot easier on everybody in line.”

Under the ordinance, the smoking ban in parks will take effect in 30 days, but police will not begin issuing citations to smokers until July, to give parks users a chance to learn about the ban.

The smoking ban on all city-owned and operated property will also go into effect in July.

While smoking in Tigard’s parks would be prohibited, the use of tobacco wouldn’t be. Non-smoking tobacco — such as chewing tobacco — would still be allowed in public parks.

Alcohol remains legal to consume in Tigard’s parks, as well.

Tualatin considers to make similar ban

In Tualatin, councilors are poised to ban tobacco use in at least some public spaces. But the breadth of the ban has yet to be decided.

Five of the six members of the Tualatin City Council present at Monday's work session agreed they want to see some degree of restriction on smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption on city-owned and managed property. But while a contingent of three led by Mayor Lou Ogden and Council President Monique Beikman favored a systemwide ban that would include public parking lots and sidewalks adjacent to city property, the other councilors were not convinced.

“I'm not into social engineering and banning things that we don't like because they look bad or smell funny,” said Councilor Ed Truax, arguing that the function of city government in a “small town” like Tualatin is to provide basic services.

Councilor Frank Bubenik said he favors a tobacco ban in areas like city parks, where people congregate, but he doesn't think a ban makes sense in parking lots and on sidewalks.

Councilor Nancy Grimes was on the fence, appearing at first to lean toward Bubenik's position before suggesting she was leaning toward a systemwide ban.

“I think that in public spaces like parks, where there's sort of an expectation of a healthy environment, I think banning smoking is a completely correct thing to do,” she said initially, although she said later she felt it would send a clear message if tobacco use were banned on all city property.

Beikman compared a prospective systemwide ban to how tobacco use is prohibited on school and hospital campuses in Tualatin.

“I'm for the blanket ban, and I think when we get into trying to cut it up into different areas, then we make it confusing,” Beikman said.

With Grimes still undecided and discussion time running short, Tualatin city staff said they would bring back multiple options for councilors to consider in a draft ordinance at a future meeting.

The city spent several weeks gathering public input on the proposed ban. Rich Mueller, Tualatin's parks and recreation manager, reported that a large majority of the feedback they'd received favored a ban, although a portion of those respondents suggested “stipulations” of some sort, such as creating designated smoking areas or including public alcohol consumption in the ban.

By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor, The Times
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow us on Twitter
Visit Us on Facebook