Westfield committee endorses smoking ban

WESTFIELD The Legislative & Ordinance Committee will present an amended smoking ordinance to the City Council Thursday, Nov. 17, that will prohibit smoking at athletic fields and cultural events.
The ordinance, sponsored by At-large Councilor Nicholas J. Morganelli, was given a positive recommendation by the L&O members Wednesday, Nov. 9, during which changes to the legislation, entitled the Smoke-free Clean Air Act, were discussed.
Susan Phillips of the Law Department said that the ordinance was revised to eliminate sections which could not be enforced.
Morganelli said that he withdrew language for a buffer zone around municipal buildings, intended to ensure city employees a smoke-free work place, because of the enforcement issues.
“The only thing that is included is outdoor places of recreation,” Morganelli said. “Everything else was taken out.”
“Streets are not included unless there is a public event taking place,” he said. “This proposed ordinance, as written now, still protects those it was intended to protect, children and families.”
Ward 2 Councilor James E. Brown Jr., chairman of the L&O, and At-large Councilor Patti Andras, L&O member, both expressed concern with another section of the proposed ordinance, prohibiting smoke along parade routes, also because of enforcement concerns.
The draft ordinance was further amended to eliminate that section.
Morganelli, when he introduced the proposed legislation, said the School Committee already has a policy to prohibit smoking on all school campuses, including athletic fields and that his ordinance will extend that to Park & Recreation Department athletic fields and parks.
The ordinance is allowed under Massachusetts General Law (MGL), Chapter 270, section 22, wich allows the “commonwealth, or any department, agency or political subdivision (city or town) of the commonwealth to set prohibitions which further limit smoking.”
Morganelli said the purpose of the ordinance is to “protect the public health and welfare by restricting smoking in all outdoor places of recreation; assure smoke-free air to non-smokers; and recognize the need to breathe smoke-free air shall have priority over the desire to smoke in public.”
Outdoors places of recreation are defined as any city-owned, operated, or leased are which is or may be open to and used by the general public, including, but not limited to, gardens, bike trails, fields, parks, spray parks, beaches, swimming pools, outdoor sports arenas, and athletic fields.
The ordinance does not apply to streets and sidewalks unless they are designed as the venue of special events such as holiday and cultural festivities.
The ordinance gives non-criminal enforcement authority to the Westfield Police Department and the Westfield Health Department. Violations are subject to a warning or to a $50 fine for the first offense and a $100 fine for subsequent offenses.
The L&O members voted 2-0 to given a position recommendation for approval to the full City Council.

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