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Tigard considers banning smoking from parks, trails

TIMES FILE PHOTO - City officials are considering a ban on smoking in parks, trails and open spaces.Smoke 'em if you’ve got 'em, and you'd better do it soon if you want to do it in Tigard.

Tigard officials are poised to pass a new city ordinance that would make it illegal to smoke in any of the city’s parks, trails or open spaces.

At its meeting on Tuesday, City Councilors discussed a plan to ban smoking in all public parks starting in 2016.

“The concern is, especially on trails when you’re out walking, running, riding bikes, there’s not room to get around if you encounter someone smoking,” said Assistant City Manager Liz Newton. “It’s not pleasant if you inhale that.”

Under the proposed ordinance, it would be illegal to smoke tobacco (cigars, cigarettes or pipes) or e-cigarettes in public parks, open spaces, on trails or other outdoor recreational areas.

If approved, smokers would face a $100 fine for a first offense, and up to $500 in fines for subsequent violations within a 12-month period.

The ordinance was proposed by Tigard City Councilor John Goodhouse, who said that smoking in city parks and on city trails negatively affects non-smokers.

FILE PHOTO - Under a proposed city ordinance, smoking and e-cigarettes would be banned from Tigard public parks.Tigard has said that it plans to become the most walkable city in the Pacific Northwest over the next 20 years, and Goodhouse said that smoking negatively affects residents’ ability to live healthy lives.

Woodard, who used to chew tobacco in his 20s and 30s, said he supports banning it from public spaces.

“Just last week, I was out walking and a group of people were smoking and I was holding my breath to get around them,” said Councilor Marc Woodard. “That’s frustrating, and it’s not the first time that's happened to me."

Tigard isn’t alone in banning cigarettes and cigars from parks. Portland, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego and Sherwood have all banned smoking in public parks.

In 2014 The Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District — which covers the Beaverton area — banned smoking in all parks, trails, parking lots and athletic fields operated by the district.

In October, Tualatin city councilors began a similar discussion about banning traditional tobacco as well as e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco from parks.

Tigard Mayor John L. Cook said that he’s gotten some pushback from some smokers in the city.

“People said at my fireside chat that I’m trying to regulate what I like or don’t (like) onto people,” he said. “When they get elected, (they) can sit up here and have the vote, too.”

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 is also allowed in Tigard parks. Councilors have not said whether or not they will be seeking an additional ban on alcoholic beverages.

“It’s not going to be the most popular ordinance amongst a certain group of people, but it sends a message,” Cook said. “It doesn’t have to be around me.”

Councilors are expected to vote on the ordinance in 2016.

If approved, Councilors are also considering expanding the smoking ban to include all city-owned buildings, such as the Tigard Public Library, City Hall, the Public Works yard, and other buildings.

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