Some still steamed about smoking ban near bleachers, backstops

Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE – A second round of comments from City Council members and residents marked Wednesday’s second and final reading of an ordinance to ban smoking within 30 feet of any bleachers or baseball backstop within a public park.

Members voted nearly unanimously to approve the second reading, with only Councilman John Rowe opposed. He believes the wording of the ordinance, which is designed to keep secondhand smoke away from children and other onlookers, is too restrictive.

Though “no smoking” signs will be posted in the parks, officials say the presence or absence of the sign will not prevent its enforcement. The civil infraction will carry a $50 fine.

Resident Tom Moore expressed his dismay with the ordinance.

“I really believe it’s not about smoking,” he said, “it’s about liberties. Liberties should not be taken lightly.”

He mentioned a court decision against sobriety check lanes as a victory for personal liberties, citing a decision that prevented rulings that restricted residents’ free passage.

Police Chief Rick Cadez, however, said that decision is not relevant to the ordinance. He also spoke later as a parent.

“I think it’s just ludicrous to think that you can smoke alongside of 2-year-olds and that he should inhale your secondhand smoke,” he said. “We’re asking you to move 30 feet to smoke as much as you want and then go back and sit down. I think the ordinance is fair, and I think it’s fair for everybody, smokers included.”