Tobacco products are no longer allowed on city property, including all city parks. 

The ordinance amending the city’s policy for tobacco use was adopted by the Crawfordsville Common Council at its meeting Monday. It will go into effect immediately following legal publication of the change. 

The council last month voted to change the proposed ordinance to exclude Elston park after a plea from Jeff Nelson, a softball league organizer, who expressed concern that the change would affect adult softball participation. 

“I think the discussion, if I recall, was that they kind of police that themselves,” council president Andy Biddle said. “They don’t allow smoking in the dugouts or on the diamonds, and I don’t think they allow smoking around the concession area or in the stands. As I recall, they were kind of policing that themselves so we removed (Elston).”

Elston Park was added back to the list of parks Monday after council members learned the claims weren’t accurate.

“I spoke to a few individuals who attend games at Elston Park who agree that the inclusion of the park in the ordinance would be a positive change,” said Autumn Clark of Tobacco Prevention Coalition of Montgomery County. “According to (one individual) smoking is not monitored outside of the dugouts. It is a priority for me and the coalition to reduce the number of individuals in the county that are (exposed) to secondhand smoke.” 

Secondhand smoke is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the Center of Disease Control.

Clark also said that including Elston Park helps eliminate confusion over which city parks fall under the ordinance and which do not.

“My advisers from the state health department have seen firsthand how when you have a missing piece in a city ordinance, it can spark a lot confusion for community members,” she said. 

Tobacco products, according to the ordinance, also includes vaping and smokeless tobacco, such chew and snuff. 

In addition to Elston, all of Milligan Park and the city pool and splash pad are now tobacco-free. 

The list also includes: Sugar Creek Trail, the Bark Avenue Dog Park, the Old Coke Plant, Pike Place and Pike Street between Walnut and Washington streets when the Pike Street gates are closed for events.

Amber Reed, Montgomery County Health Department administrator, believes the change will only improve the number of people who use the city grounds.

“If you remember a couple years back when food establishments went non-smoking, there was deep concern among our business owners that they would lose business over transitioning into non-smoking,” Reed said. “What we’ve actually seen is the opposite. We have seen business owners who are pleased with the uptick in their business because the families who didn’t go and didn’t say anything are now going into these places.”

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