Just before it takes a final vote on an ordinance to ban smoking, including vaping and e-cigarettes, in all public parks, playgrounds and athletic fields next Tuesday, Lewiston’s City Council will start work on a new proposal to ban smoking in the heart of the city’s business district.
Businesses working with nonprofit health advocacy group Healthy Androscoggin have proposed that Lewiston city councilors ban smoking on Lisbon Street sidewalks from Adams Avenue to Main Street. The area is an important thoroughfare for downtown businesses, but it also attracts groups of smokers billowing vapors and dropping butts.
“Anything we can do to support our downtown businesses at a time when we’re trying to revitalize our downtown will be beneficial,” Lewiston Mayor Kristen Cloutier said. The city is in the midst of major investments to clean up its aging housing and create more living spaces.
Cloutier said the stretch of Lisbon Street under consideration is where she takes her 10-year-old daughter during art walks.
“It’s a public health issue,” she said. “And businesses feel like it’s an impediment when people are smoking outside and customers have to walk through it.”
If approved, the Lisbon Street area would be added to an existing ordinance that also bans smoking on the Central and Sabattus street sidewalks surrounding St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.
Alicia Rea, a City Council representative, said it is important to also educate people about the dangers of smoking and how to quit.
“We have to tell them what smoking cessation means, not just slap fines on them,” she said.