Tobacco-free parks considered in Lawrenceville – Atlanta…

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Lawrenceville is one of the latest Gwinnett cities to consider banning smoking products from its public parks and recreational facilities.

At a work session of the Lawrenceville City Council earlier this month, Deputy City Manager Steve North recommended an update to the city’s park and recreation ordinance to reflect the county’s tobacco-free policy implemented in October 2020. This amendment would allow both county and city police officers to enforce the county’s policy, North said.

The use of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and vapes are prohibited in parks and recreational facilities under the county’s tobacco-free policy. The policy makes an exception for smoking cessation aids, but all other methods of nicotine delivery could result in a warning or citation.

The Council will decide whether to institute the ban at its Jan. 25 meeting. It will also vote on prohibiting the use of smoking products on all city-owned property outside of designated smoking areas; violations would result in $100 fines.

Lawrenceville employees already cannot smoke inside city-owned vehicles or on public grounds outside of designated smoking areas due to personnel policy, and North said the city would work on reeducating its employees if the amendment passes.

Also at its Jan. 25 meeting, the Council will consider including vaping in its smoking ban at Georgia Gwinnett College. The state’s Board of Regents prohibits the use of smoking products, including vapes, on campuses. If Lawrenceville updates its law, anyone who smokes or vapes on campus, student or non-student, could face a fine up to $100 from the city.

Lawrenceville placed all of its smoking-related items on a consent agenda at its January work session, indicating a routine passing at its Jan. 25 meeting.

The county is still figuring out how much violators will be fined for smoking or vaping in restricted areas, said Gwinnett County spokesman Joe Sorenson. Anyone who violates the county’s park and recreation ordinance currently faces a fee up to $140, but that may change, he said.

The county’s Recreation Authority Board sought approval of the county’s tobacco-free policy to “protect the health of (its) workforce, users and environment,” according to a letter to the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.

Before the county’s policy passed, the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments voiced their support for it. The tobacco ban could prevent secondhand smoke exposure while outdoors and reduce littering of cigarette butts, wrote District Health Director Audrey Arona in a letter to the commissioners.

The majority of cities in Gwinnett — including Buford, Berkeley Lake, Grayson, Duluth, Lilburn, Snellville and Sugar Hill — already have smoking bans in public parks and recreational facilities. Some cities include vaping as part of the ban, while others will likely follow suit and adopt the county’s language.

In December of last year, Norcross banned the use of smoking products in public parks and recreational facilities to allow its city police officers to enforce the county-wide ban.

Outside of Gwinnett, some metro Atlanta cities have implemented stricter smoking bans. In both Chamblee and Doraville it’s illegal to light up a cigarette or hit a vape on apartment balconies. And it’s illegal to use smoking products in Smyrna’s downtown district.

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