A bench offers a view of the Saco River at Saco’s Jubilee Park, one of the places where tobacco use would be banned should a proposed ordinance be approved. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

SACO — The city of Saco is considering a proposed ordinance prohibiting tobacco products in public parks, and is contemplating taking measures to further discourage tobacco use in public places.

City Administration Intern George Chaison-Lapine at an Aug. 7 workshop proposed an ordinance that would ban the use of tobacco products from all city parks and recreation areas.  Parks and Recreation Department staff would be charged with enforcing the ordinance.

Under the proposed ordinance, it would be unlawful for any person to smoke, vape or use tobacco products in any form at parks or city recreation areas. Anyone violating this would be given a verbal warning by parks and recreation staff and asked to stop using the tobacco product. If the person refuses, they may be asked to leave the tobacco free zone. Refusal of any person to leave a tobacco free zone would be considered trespass, which the police could enforce in accordance with state law.

The ordinance was well received by the City Council. Councilor Nathan Johnston said he’d been wanting such an city ordinance for several years. Councilor Lynn Copeland said she thought the proposal was “fantastic.”

Last week, the City Council held a first reading on the proposed ordinance.

In addition to passing the proposed ordinance, Johnston said he would like the city to readopt a 2005 resolution declaring the city smoke-free. The resolution would not be an enforceable document but would discourage people from smoking on public property in addition to the areas described in the proposed ordinance.

State law prohibits people from smoking in public buildings and within 20 feet from them.

Councilor William Doyle suggested the city broaden the ordinance so that it included all public property, but Johnston noted that it would be difficult for parks and recreation staff to enforce the ordinance on places that were not parks or recreation areas.

A public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Saco City Hall.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

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