Thursday, December 12, 2013
OAKLAND — The Town Council has approved an outdoor smoking ban for the town's parks and beaches, a measure police said is needed to help resolve problem in town-owned public property.
The smoking ban was added to the town's control of public areas ordinance, which sets fines of between $50 and $75 per violation.
Oakland joins many other area towns, including Waterville, Skowhegan and Augusta, in restricting smoking in public places.
The law applies to the public landing and swim area on Messalonskee Lake, the Fairfield Street playground, and Pleasant Point Park.
Beginning in 2004, Healthy Horizons, a health advocacy group funded by tobacco settlement money, has asked municipalities across Maine to ban smoking, many of which have responded by tightening local laws.
As regulations against smoking have increased during the last 20 years, smoking rates have declined.
During the past two decades, teen smoking in the state has declined from a high of nearly 40 percent to 15 percent, while adult smoking has gone from 23 percent to 17 percent, according to the Maine Center for Disease and Control.
Still, according to the most recent figures from the center, Maine has 180,000 smokers who buy more than 9 million packs of cigarettes per year.
The Oakland ban, which takes effect immediately, passed unanimously at the Town Council this week.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287