City, smoke-free advocates raise awareness of ban

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Last fall, the Crawfordsville City Council passed an ordinance to ban tobacco products in all city parks, a move welcomed by visitors who complained about the smoke during recreational outings.

As people begin gathering in larger groups after the stay-at-home order was lifted, the city and tobacco-free advocates are raising awareness about the new law, which also covers e-cigarettes.

“A lot of people are just now getting back out and a lot of our activities are back up and running,” Crawfordsville Parks & Recreation director Fawn Johnson said.

Signs have gone up at the parks and city pool, and members of Tobacco Free Montgomery County are using the opportunity to remind the public about the dangers of secondhand smoke, which is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Tobacco use was already pretty regulated in the parks. You really weren’t supposed to be smoking unless you were in certain areas, so hopefully given how much it was already regulated, there will be little pushback,” said Autumn Clark, Montgomery County tobacco coordinator.

The products have long been off-limits in city-owned buildings and vehicles and the shelter houses at Milligan Park. Vaping had yet to be introduced in the U.S. when the ordinance was updated in 2004.

Clark said research shows the risk of secondhand smoke extends to e-cigarettes, which produce an aerosol containing nicotine and other chemicals linked to cancers.

Tobacco use and vaping is now banned at the Milligan Park pool and splash pad, Elston Park, the Downtown and Sugar Creek trails, Bark Avenue Dog Park and Pike Place during public events.

Violators could be fined $25 on the first offense. The fine increases to $50 for the second offense and $75 on the third and subsequent violations.

Tobacco Free Montgomery County is now working to encourage more indoor facilities and businesses to go smoke-free, Clark said. Eventually, she said the coalition wants to see tobacco regulated in all indoor spaces across the county.

The coalition also plans to work with landlords on tobacco-free policies in multi-unit housing complexes.

For more information about the group, search “Tobacco Free Montgomery County” on Facebook.

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