DELPHOS — The City of Delphos has initiated its “100 percent tobacco-free grounds policy” that prohibits smoking and the use of other tobacco products at city-owned outdoor recreational facilities, such as city parks.
“I think as a city, we look at the parks as typically recreational facilities where people are playing tennis, or baseball, or some other sport,” Delphos Mayor Josh Gillespie said. “The atmosphere is more of a recreational fitness facility, and we wanted to promote a healthy lifestyle along with it.”
While Delphos may be the first city in Allen County to put such a policy in place, moves have been made by Allen County Public Health to encourage other local municipalities to implement similar rules.
Creating Healthy Communities Program Coordinator Shelly Miller said creating tobacco-free places has been a growing trend for communities in order to eliminate some of the dangers of second-hand tobacco use, and the move aligns with past Ohio laws that prohibit smoking in bars, schools, certain housing units and places of employment.
Other municipalities in the county, such as Lima, can prohibit smoking in specific public places and at events, but the new Delphos policy aims to affect the entire park system. The tobacco-free policy bans smoking, chew, snuff and electronic smoking devices, or vaping.
Gillespie said the city has had a few residents asking questions about the new policy, especially concerning enforcement of the Delphos policy. Since, the new rules aren’t stated in an official city ordinance, Gillespie said officers won’t be “driving around looking for something.”
Instead, the new rules will be more of a reminder for people to think twice before smoking.
The policy took effect this past week, and signs will eventually be posted throughout outdoor recreational facilities to inform anyone considering smoking.
According to the new rules, interested groups can waive the policy if they are having an event on city-owned property. To do so, sponsoring organizations must file a waiver to designate a “smoking area,” which must be approved by the mayor and/or the safety service director.
Miller said reducing tobacco use is part of a countywide initiative that aims to boost overall public health. Compared to state and national numbers, the county doesn’t have a significantly higher than average smoking population, but the Department of Health and Human Services has set overarching goals to reduce nationwide tobacco use.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.