The Advisory Parks Board adopted a rule earlier this month that bans smoking and the use “of all tobacco products” in Oshkosh parks.
The ban is intended to address concerns about litter, secondhand smoke and contact with cigarette butts by children and pets.
The proposal comes from a group called the re:TH!NK Youth Coalition, which is a volunteer organization supported by the Winnebago County Health Department.
The group had originally proposed a city ordinance banning tobacco, but the Police Department pushed back on this idea because of the enforcement problems this would have created for officers. Instead the ban will be enforced by park staffers who “will be able to impose a park suspension for any violators that don’t voluntarily comply,” said City Manager Mark Rohloff.
The Youth Coalition said it was OK with this approach as long as it is reviewed after one year for effectiveness.
Other communities that have imposed these kinds of restrictions rely heavily on signs and voluntary compliance, and an overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites already do not smoke, the Youth Coalition said in its presentation to the parks board. The coalition plans to apply for grants to fund the signs.
“We look forward to the positive impact that this change will have in keeping our parks system user-friendly and healthy,” Rohloff said.
Photo of youths playing basketball in Menominee Park by Adam Jungwirth.