City Council: Tobacco use illegal in city parks

It is now illegal to use tobacco products in any city park – even if you’ve reserved a pavilion.

City Council approved an amendment to the city code on Monday, outlawing use of any tobacco or vape product in city parks regardless of pavilion reservation.

During a June Parks and recreaton Commission meeting, City Council Member Phil Gilbert proposed the rewriting of a section of the city’s code detailing when and where smoking can occur. According to the past language, it was unlawful to smoke or chew tobacco products, or to vape, in any park, recreation, preservation, or conservation area. Except, according to the section of the ordinance dealing with tobacco products and vaping, “when reserved by the public through the City of Warren pavilion reservation process for use on a specified date and at a specified time.”

That language was changed by a unanimous vote by council during Monday’s meeting. Any person caught using tobacco products in city parks will now be cited and fined, with the fine amount falling between $25 and $1,000.

Mayor Maurice Cashman asked director of codes, permitting and recreation services Terry Williams how the fine amount would be decided.

“The city police will write the citation,” Williams said. “The fine is determined then by the District Magistrate.”

Chief of Police Brandon Deppen explained the fine process.

“All of these citations go through the magistrate’s office,” he said. “He has sole discretion. Generally, what he decides has to do with previous violations and state costs. Often times, a $25 fine would probably be a $200 total cost, give or take.”

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