Johnson City bans smoking and vaping in all city parks and playgrounds | WJHL

JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee (WJHL) – A new ordinance is now in effect in Johnson City banning smoking and vaping in city-owned and accessible parks, playgrounds and recreation areas.

The decision was passed unanimously by the Johnson City Commission on Thursday.

A law recently signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee gives local governments the ability to ban the use of tobacco and vaping products on public property.

Johnson City commissioners have decided to act.

“I believe this is the best decision we can make for our future. Our future is made up of our young people here in our community, ”said Commissioner Aaron Murphy.

Johnson City Police are now authorized to issue a citation of up to $ 50 to people caught red-handed.

Commissioners say they want to protect children from exposure to secondhand smoke when playing on city property.

“We have to understand that children are still developing. They did not choose to participate in these activities by smoking and vaping. Don’t force that on them in these public spaces, ”Murphy said.

According to Johnson’s town attorney, Sunny Sandos, a no-smoking policy was already in place for the town’s parks and playgrounds. Now it has been amended to include the city’s “greenways” which are used as parks.

This means King Commons and Founders Park are now included in the smoking ban.

“These two green spaces are part of the city’s flood mitigation plan and not under the jurisdiction of the Parks and Recreation Department. As such, the new law passed by the State allows local communities to adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking and vaping on greenways. A key part of the new ordinance is that it extended the current ban to these two greenways which are used by our citizens as parks, ”Sandos told News Channel 11.

Sandos stressed that vaping will now be banned in all city parks, along with smoking.

“I would frankly ban it everywhere,” said Kathryn Kraus, a user of the park. “I have lost four people to smoking, it is not a pleasant death either.”

Some Johnson City residents are divided over the need for the new rule.

“Maybe in playgrounds a smoking ban makes sense. But as open as Founders Park is, I don’t think it’s really necessary, ”George Kraus told the park.

It is also a question of cleanliness in city parks which could be improved by the ban.

“Especially the cigarette butts everywhere. It’s not good for the environment either, ”said Kathryn Kraus.

So, should citizens report someone who smokes in one of these now no-go areas?

“It is up to each individual to determine whether he observes an activity that potentially requires police intervention. There is no obligation to report violations in the city or the state of Tennessee, ”said Sandos.

The city plans to install new signage to reflect the new ordinance.

“It’s the right thing to do, Murphy said. “We are trying to build the best community possible. Making decisions like this is a big part of it. ”

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