Work continues on would-be smoking restrictions in Wiscasset

Posted:  Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 8:15am
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The smoking public has to have somewhere to go in Wiscasset, Ordinance Review Committee member Gordon Kontrath argued Monday night as the panel continued drafting possible smoking restrictions.

The rules undergo more work next month and, when ready, will go to selectmen to consider for a town vote the ordinance would need. Selectmen had the ORC draft rules at the recommendation of then-Parks and Recreation Director Todd Souza.

Kontrath smoked for 42 years before he quit 10 years ago. He called smoking an addiction and asked, if people are going to come to town, do business and spend money, where are they going to smoke. “Every place that’s on here is where we want tourists to come. This is saying the whole downtown Wiscasset and other places (are) a smoke-free zone, and I have to disagree with that.”

The panel struck several public spaces from the prospective list of no-smoking areas. Gone from the list are the northern end of Churchill Street between Churchill and Hooper streets and Gardiner Road; the grounds between Washington Street’s middle section and Bath and Gardiner roads; the grounds between the sidewalk and Washington Street’s middle section; the grounds between Washington Street’s eastern section, Summer Street and Bath Road; the grounds between the north side of Main Street and the sidewalk between Summer and Federal streets; the grounds between the south side of Main Street and the sidewalk between High and Middle streets; and the grounds between the north side of Fore Street and the sidewalk between Middle and Water streets.

Still on the list, or added to it Monday night, are the grounds of the municipal complex, public works garage, Powder House, Maine Art Gallery, wastewater treatment plant, Scout Hall, Sunken Garden, the commercial, recreational and Main Street or Creamery piers; the public boat launches; the grounds of Mason Station, the town common, Whites Island, school grounds, recreational center grounds and the community playground.

Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Thompson and LincolnHealth tobacco prevention program coordinator Joan Atkinson weighed in on the would-be ordinance. “This is wonderful. Congratulations,” Atkinson told the committee. She brought a free, tobacco-free smoking area sign for the town to keep and said the town could have as many as it wants. And she brought information about electronic or E-cigarettes which she said are on an uptick. The committee’s draft of the ordinance covers tobacco products and electronic devices that deliver nicotine or other vaporized liquids; it excludes tobacco cessation or other therapeutic  products the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for sale.

The draft eyes a warning for the first violation and fines of $50 to $300 for subsequent ones.

Atkinson and Thompson stressed the importance of education as part of enforcement. If people don’t know the rules, they won’t know how to follow them, Atkinson said. “Education is the biggest tool ... that would lead to acceptance.”

Thompson said the community center already bans smoking, but the ordinance would help. “It’s not being adhered to. People smoke right in front of our sign.”

Also Monday, members discussed possibly recommending selectmen extend the marijuana moratorium Wiscasset voters passed in June and that runs out near the end of the year. The extension would allow time to see what the state does, members said.

The committee meets next at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at the municipal building.