By: Haley BeMiller, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Smokers, including those who puff on e-cigarettes, will have to watch where they light up while they enjoy Wausau's parks.
The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to prohibit smoking in certain areas of city parks and other outdoor areas on city property. Smoking will be banned inside enclosed park shelters, restroom buildings and within the fenced areas of tennis courts. The ban doesn't apply to open-air shelters.
Additionally, smoking will no longer be allowed within 50 feet of playgrounds, sports fields, swimming pool areas and the skateboarding facility at Oak Island Park.
Smoking may also be temporarily prohibited during events sponsored by the Parks Department, or free, public events in which the organizer has requested no smoking. However, an event organizer can ask to have the ban waived to permit smoking for ticketed events.
The ban applies to smoking and vaping, said assistant city attorney Tara Alfonso.
The ban is a response to citizens who are bothered by the practice, as well as concerns about children being exposed to the image of adults smoking, said council member Pat Peckham. It also aims to curb littering, he said, which the city has already been working to address through the installation of cigarette butt receptacles in places such as the 400 Block and River's Edge Trail.
The city will put up signs in parks to enforce the ban. Violators will have to pay a $25 cash deposit to the city plus court costs, Alfonso said, bringing the total to $92.50.
Peckham said citizens could involve the police if they see someone smoking in an off-limits area, but he believes it'll be regulated primarily through signage and community standards.
"Sign says you’re not supposed to smoke here, so let’s not smoke here," he said.
City officials revived the issue of smoking in parks after the council voted down a blanket ban. Opponents at the time argued it went too far, too fast.
“I think the community is ready for this step," Peckham said.