2014-04-18 / Community

Cape bans smoking from Fort Williams

By Duke Harrington
Contributing Writer

The Cape Elizabeth Town Council voted 6-1 on Monday, April 14, to ban smoking, including of so-called electronic cigarettes, from Fort Williams Park. The update to the town’s “Miscellaneous Offenses” ordinance will impose a $250 fine for use of any tobacco product within the historic 80-acre site, starting May 13.

Councilor Molly McAuslan, a nonsmoker, was the lone voice of dissent for the measure, first proposed by the sevenmember Fort Williams Advisory Commission in October. “I’m not typically in favor of additional ordinances or additional legal intervention on the part of the municipal authority into people’s lives,” she said.

“I don’t like governmental overreach either,” said Advisory Commission Chairman William Brownell. “But I don’t perceive this to be that. When we talk about the public health and the health of our citizenry, I think government has a place at the table.”

McAuslan instead stumped for placement of “Thank you for not smoking” signs throughout the park, similar to ones proposed the last time a smoking ban was considered in 2008.

At that time, the commission deemed an outright ban on smoking to be “unenforceable.” However, Town Manager Michael McGovern said the ban could be self-policing.

“Most ordinances like this we look for voluntary cooperation,” he said. “Only belligerent or repeat offenders are likely to be summonsed. Our people would politely point out the rule and ask for cooperation.”

At Monday’s meeting, Brentwood Road resident Scott Clark questioned the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the ban, saying they only produce vapor, creating no health risk from second-hand smoke. Electronic cigarettes helped him to kick the real thing, he said.

However, Councilor Kathy Ray said it would be too much of a burden on park staff to ask them to differentiate real cigarettes from the electronic variety.

“It’s important to be able to enforce something that appears to be smoking,” she said.

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