WISCASSET, Maine — The Wiscasset Board of Selectmen last week instituted a no-smoking or vaporizing policy for the community center, community playground and Sherman Park.
The policy was enacted after Wiscasset Parks and Recreation Director Todd Souza’s asked town officials to develop a no-smoking ordinance.
The only record of a no-smoking policy in Wiscasset that Souza was able to identify was a memo sent from an interim town manager to town employees, encouraging them to smoke in their vehicles instead of outside, he said.
Smoking is not allowed on school property, but there were no regulations governing other town-owned properties, Souza said. He reviewed no-smoking ordinances developed by other municipalities, and he said an ordinance for Wiscasset “could be as complicated or as simple as we want.”
Souza identified the community center, community playground and Sherman Park as the primary targets for a no-smoking ordinance because of their proximity to Wiscasset Middle High School and Wiscasset Elementary School and their use by children. Those areas should be “a simple decision,” he said.
While policies are not enforceable by the police department, which can only act on official ordinances, selectmen have the authority to establish a no-smoking policy, and opted to take immediate action in relation to those areas of town.
A townwide policy applying to areas such as the waterfront would be more complicated, Selectman Lawrence Gordon said.
“I don’t think anyone would object to this,” he said. “It’s for the kids.”
Selectmen debated whether to direct the ordinance review committee to develop a no-smoking ordinance, but ultimately decided against it. Some selectmen said the ordinance was unnecessary, and that it would be difficult to enforce.
While no formal ordinance to govern smoking on town property will be developed, selectmen voted unanimously to enact the policy prohibiting smoking on the community center, playground, and Sherman Park grounds.
The policy will not only apply to cigarettes, but also to e-cigarettes and other forms of vaporizing. Selectman David Cherry amended the motion to approve the no-smoking policy so it would extend to vaporizing as well.
The initial enforcement of the policy will come in the form of education, Souza said. With the policy now enacted, parks and recreation staff will have the ability to have conversations with people smoking in those areas and inform them it is prohibited. Enforcement would only become an issue if there is a repeat offender who refuses to abide by the policy, he said.
Chairwoman Judy Colby asked about no-smoking signage that would need to be placed in those areas to inform people of the new policy.
The Maine Municipal Association and Healthy Lincoln County were identified as organizations that might be able to help cover the costs of the signs.