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Smoke-free proposal headed for City Council

by MACKENZI KLEMANN

mklemann@wabashplaindealer.com

Wabash may follow North Manchester’s lead and go smoke-free in all public facilities – including bars, taverns and clubs.

The City Council is expected to consider a smoke-free ordinance similar to the one recently adopted in North Manchester during its Nov. 26 meeting. But before that happens, Mayor Scott Long says he wants public feedback to help the council determine whether an ordinance is merited here.

“My opinion is I don’t want to infringe, or government intrusion into people’s lives if it doesn’t have to,” Long told the Plain Dealer on Wednesday. “I’d love to hear the public’s opinion. Those are the people my council represents and I represent, and if I get a great majority who say we need to go smoke-free, then obviously that’s going to sway my opinion a little bit.

“Even though I may not agree with the ordinance, that’s the deal: If the people have spoken I think we’re obligated to speak at their pleasure and be their voice.”

Much like the ordinance adopted in North Manchester, the proposed smoke-free policy would prohibit smoking and electronic cigarette use in all public facilities, places of employment and even outdoor public spaces, like parks and sporting venues, and within close proximity to public events, bus stops, playgrounds and other outdoor venues.

Fines would start at $100 for the first violation, according to a version of the proposed ordinance provided to the Plain Dealer. That would increase to $200 on second violation and up to $500 for additional violations within a one-year period.

The public will have more than one month to share feedback before the council considers the first reading of the ordinance, expected to be heard during the Nov. 26 meeting.

North Manchester Town Council member Jim Smith says he hasn’t heard much feedback, positive or negative, since the town’s smoke-free policy took effect in September. But it’s unclear whether the public reception will be the same in Wabash.

“We need to have broad support or lack of support before the council decides what to do,” said Dan Gray, executive director of the Wabash County Tobacco-Free Coalition, a supporter of the smoke-free proposal.

The ordinance will need to be approved on two separate readings before taking effect.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Jim Smith as the North Manchester Town Council president. The council's current president is Chalmer Tobias.