Cigarette

Smoking may soon be regulated in Hutchinson parks as an ordinance prohibiting using tobacco within 25 feet of parks and playgrounds moves forward.

If you want to smoke in Hutchinson parks, you’ll have to be at least 25 feet from playgrounds and ball fields. That’s according to a proposed ordinance Hutchinson City Council discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

The ordinance, if the second reading is approved in two weeks, would prohibit the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes within 25 feet of any city playground or within Tartan Park and Veterans Memorial Field; ball fields at Roberts Park, Riverside Park, Northwoods Park and VFW Park; and the Hutchinson Aquatic Center.

The ordinance states the areas also include spectator areas, concession stands and restrooms. However, smoking would be allowed in parking lots except at Tartan Park as long as the smoker is more than 25 feet away from any entrance, walkway or spectator area.

City Council members voted unanimuosly to have a second reading. Council members Mary Christensen and Dave Sebesta, who’d previously disagreed with an all-out smoking ban in parks, gave approval.

Last month, Council Member Steve Cook proposed less restrictive regulations when the original smoking ban failed.

“I thought again after our first discussion about making all parks tobacco free,” Cook said. “There seemed to be an openness to have (regulations) in areas with a high concentration of youth. That’s all these (parks) I picked.”

Previous proposals included banning smoking in all parks but McLeod County Veterans Memorial Park, based on Christensen’s argument that veterans should be free to use tobacco in or near a park built in their honor.

The smoking ban was originally part of a set of language changes to Chapter 95 of the City Code. Those changes moved forward without the smoking ban last month.

“I know we can’t control a lot of stuff, but this is something we can control,” Cook said.