Summit County working to make all parks smoke-free

BARBERTON, OH (WOIO) - Ditched cigarette butts lay scattered in the grass at Lake Anna Park in downtown Barberton.

Summit County Public Health workers said in 2017 they picked up more than 3,000 cigarette butts in Lake Anna Park alone.

At Barberton Sports Complex it was worse. Workers collected more than 5,000 littered cigarettes just feet from where kids play.

"I would love to see them put an ordinance out that's no smoking at parks," said Ron Hill.

Hill lives next door to Crisman Park. He sees kids at the park all the time, but he said it's also a popular spot for smokers, who he's tired of cleaning up after.

"They throw them out in the yard here and I've got to keep them cleaned up. It's nasty, you know," he said.

The city of Barberton already has no smoking signs up throughout their parks, but the problem is the smoking ban is currently a policy right now, which means police can't enforce it. By changing the smoking ban into an ordinance, officials can come through and fine people or kick them out of the parks if they're caught violating the rules.

If passed by Barberton City Council, cigarettes would join other banned items, like alcohol, drugs and explosives. Public Health workers said the department hopes to make all Summit County parks smoke-free.

"It's become acceptable not to smoke in restaurants and bars. I don't see how we find it's acceptable to smoke at the monkey bars and various other places where our kids play," said Cory Kendrick, Summit County director of population health.

Barberton city workers said they haven't received complaints from smokers who oppose the proposal. The city said its goal is to keep city parks safe and clean for kids.

Kendrick said e-cigs and vaping devices also fall under the no-smoking ban.

According to other existing ordinances, the max fine could be up to $500. The ticket price will be determined at Monday's city council meeting when members vote on the proposal.

Council President Craig Megyes said he believes the proposal will pass. If so, it'll go into effect right away.

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