Town approves move to tobacco free parks
Monday, November 27, 2017
AYDEN — Ayden’s town parks are now tobacco free.
The Ayden Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 14 to prohibit tobacco products within town parks per a request by Tommy Duncan, Ayden’s arts and recreation director, and the Ayden Arts and Recreation advisory board.
“Our goal is to keep it away from kids,” Duncan said, regarding tobacco at the Oct. 9 board meeting.
Tobacco-free parks have increased in popularity across the country over the years. As of July, more than 1,400 municipalities in the United States have made the switch to tobacco-free parks, according to information presented to commissioners.
Ayden Manager Steve Harrell advocated for the ordinance last month, stating that if only 60 or 70 percent of smokers followed the ordinance, the town would see a drastic improvement.
Commissioners held a public hearing on the matter at the Nov. 14 board meeting. No residents came before to speak in favor or against the proposed restriction.
Several commissioners asked Duncan how the ordinance would be enforced. It will be a community effort by Ayden police officers, recreation staff and residents, Duncan said.
Ayden Commissioner Mary Alice Davenport made the motion to accept the ordinance, which Ayden Commissioner Ivory Mewborn seconded.
The ordinance, which is effective Jan. 1, “prohibits the use of all tobacco products and electronic cigarettes in all areas of the town of Ayden’s parks system, including grounds, buildings and vehicles,” according to the ordinance.
“Enacting it Jan. 1 will give us time to get the word out and give everyone a heads up,” Harrell said.
The ordinance will also help lower littering in the town’s parks, cutting back on cigarette butts, and help keep children from inhaling secondhand smoke from smokers around their play areas and in their vicinity, officials said.
Large signs will be placed within town parks stating “tobacco-free” zones.
Those caught using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes on a park premises will be asked to cease use of the product, officials said. If the warning is not effective, police will be called to resolve the issue.
The Times Leader serves southern Pitt County including Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.