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Lakewood City Council Considers Smoking Ban in Parks

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By Autumn Ziemba, Fox 8 News Reporter

LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- Bars and restaurants have been smoke free for years. Now the city of Lakewood might take that same indoor concept to the great outdoors.

Council member Mary Louise Madigan wants to clear the air.

"There shouldn't be smoking in a public space where people go to exercise, to play on playgrounds, and have fun--there's just no place for it," Madigan said.

That's why she has introduced a measure that would ban smoking in all 15 acres of Lakewood's parks. She calls it a public health issue.

"It's a matter of a healthy place for children to play, old people to walk, people of any age group to enjoy the outdoor public place that they pay for without having to worry about a cigarette plume blowing in their face," Madigan explained.

Park-goers Thursday had mixed reactions to the proposed measure.

"You see cigarette butts all over the park, so it'll just make for a cleaner park experience," says Sara Wichtendahl, who works in Lakewood.

"Anything that helps kids stay away from smoking themselves to lead to a healthier lifestyle for them, I think is great," says Lakewood resident Sarah Mendoza.

But not everyone agrees.

"Smokers got enough [restrictions] already. Can't smoke indoors at work, in public places, restaurants, now outside? Next thing, you won't be able to smoke on city streets," says Lakewood resident Larry Petersen.

Almost 600 cities nationwide have already made the controversial change, but Lakewood would be the first Cleveland suburb and the second city in Ohio.

"We know we're on the forefront of this in Cuyahoga County," Madigan says, "But if any city can do it and do it right, Lakewood can."

Madigan says if the measure passes, the city will post signs to warn of the ban. Violators will face a citation and fine.

Lakewood City Council will hold a public meeting on April 2 for residents to voice their opinions or concerns.