Ban smoking in city parks? Proposal being discussed in Sandusky

SANDUSKY, Ohio -- The Sandusky City Commission is weighing a proposed ordinance that would ban smoking in all city parks.

At a City Commission meeting Monday, commissioners voted five to two to advance the ordinance to a second reading, including an added amendment to create a tobacco and vape-free environment not only in parks, but also in piers, plazas and bike paths.

Under the proposal, those who light up in city parks would be subject to a minor misdemeanor.

It goes further than a current city ordinance passed in 2016, which bans smoking within 25 feet of playground areas in city parks.

"The only thing we really heard was that we didn't go far enough, and a lot of our community would support us banning smoking in all the parks," said Commissioner Nikki Lloyd, who proposed the ordinance. "Some think we are taking away certain rights, but I would say this legislation has nothing to do with taking away rights. It's about protecting the health and safety of our community."

Lloyd said she hopes it reduces the amount of cigarette butts littering places like Shoreline Park.

Others, including Commissioner Greg Lockhart, said they oppose the change. Lockhart said he thinks the measure should go before the public for a vote.

"If you're sitting in your car, if you're fishing, if you're walking through the park, wherever you are, you could be in violation of this new law," Lockhart said. "I'm against it because it violates the basic rights, freedoms and liberties that our veterans have fought so hard for us to have."

Commissioners will take a final vote on the proposed ordinance following a second hearing at their meeting on April 23.