Richmond To Consider Ordinance To Ban Smoking, Vaping In Public Outdoors Areas

Richmond To Consider Ordinance To Ban Smoking, Vaping In Public Outdoors Areas
Richmond To Consider Ordinance To Ban Smoking, Vaping In Public Outdoors Areas

In the town of Richmond, an ordinance is being considered to ban smoking and vaping in public outdoor areas. The motivation behind this proposed regulation is to ensure harmony and safety in the community, particularly following the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Rhode Island. The town council has scheduled a public hearing on July 18th to discuss the ordinance and receive input from the community.

Police Chief Elwood M. Johnson Jr. highlighted that the intention of the ordinance is to provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to keep residents safe and healthy. Certain spaces where people gather might be better without smoking or vaping, and there are concerns about public intoxication and its impact on driving, especially when individuals have to leave public places to consume substances.

The proposed ordinance aims to align with existing state laws and regulations that already prohibit smoking indoors. If approved, it would make it a violation to smoke or vaporize any tobacco or cannabis products in public areas. The list of restricted places includes public parks, sports venues, and school grounds. Those who violate the ordinance could face penalties such as a fine of up to $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

The town of Richmond is attempting to strike a balance between the legal use of substances, public health, and individual circumstances following the passage of the Rhode Island Cannabis Act. Second-hand marijuana smoke may not concern many people when outdoors. However, Police Chief Johnson emphasizes that it can have adverse effects on individuals with certain medical conditions, such as children with weakened immune systems. He urges council members to consider scenarios where a child with cystic fibrosis may be exposed to marijuana smoke at a local ballpark, potentially causing significant harm to their health.

Without an ordinance in place, police officers have limited recourse if called upon to address such situations. In most cases, they can only explain the concerns and request the individual to extinguish their marijuana cigarette. Implementing the new ordinance would enable law enforcement officers to better enforce the regulations and ensure the safety of everyone in the community.

Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth asserts that it is crucial to target both tobacco and marijuana smoking in the ordinance, rather than regulating one and not the other. According to Ellsworth, there is no evidence suggesting that second-hand tobacco smoke is any less harmful to public health than second-hand cannabis smoke.

The proposed ordinance has gained significant support from members of the town council, including Councilman Michael Colasante and Councilwoman Samantha Wilcox, who have expressed their backing for the effort.

The public hearing to discuss the proposed smoking and vaping ban will take place on July 18th at 5 p.m. during the regular council meeting held in the Town Council Chambers at Richmond Town Hall.



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