Smokers in Ann Arbor may soon find their cigarette breaks a little bit more tedious.

A recently proposed ordinance in the Ann Arbor City Council would ban smoking near bus stops and city building entrances — a move that public health advocates say would cut down on instances of second hand smoke and protect non-smokers.

The new ordinance reinforces and expands on an existing ordinance in Washtenaw County that prohibits smoking near building entrances, ventilation systems and windows.

However, under the county ordinance, only the county’s health department has the power to enforce the law. Under the newly proposed city ordinance, the Ann Arbor Police Department would enforce it as well.

While the current ordinance enforces a $50 fine for anyone caught smoking in a smoke-free area, councilmembers are working on language for the law that makes it clear that law enforcement must first ask the smoker to move in the form of a verbal warning before giving any citation.

The Council voted last week to postpone any vote on the matter for another month.

Councilmember Chuck Warpehoski (D–Ward 5), the sponsor of the ordinance, said one of his reasons for calling to postpone the vote was to ensure clarity in the ordinance’s intent.

“We’re not trying to rack up a lot of ticket revenue; we’re trying to create smoke-free areas,” Warpehoski said. “If somebody’s smoking and we tell them to put it out or move and they do that, that’s what we want. We don’t want to go around handing out tickets for this. We just want clean air.”

The law would also allow the city administrator to declare some areas of Ann Arbor parks to be smoke-free zones. This matter created some confusion, Warpehoksi said. He emphasized that the ordinance would not ban smoking in all Ann Arbor parks.

Councilmember Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2) said she does not want to see smoking outlawed in all Ann Arbor parks and hopes City Council will retain the power to decide on that issue.

“I’m not comfortable with simply granting authority to the administrator to decide on the parks,” Lumm said. “I think it should be a Council decision.”

Lumm added that the law may have the potential to harm citizens’ rights.

“If someone wants to just sit on a park bench or walk through the park (with a cigarette), are we going to ban that?” Lumm said. “We all want a healthy, smoke-free environment, but I just want to make sure we’re doing it right and not going overboard.”

Lumm said she believes the police “have more important things to do” than enforce smoking laws, and suggested focusing on areas where there are problems rather than broadly enforcing the law.

She added that the postponement was necessary due to a lack of clarity and input from the Parks Advisory Committee, the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and the business community. However, she said she would most likely support the final draft of the ordinance.

In addition to the bars and restaurants that have become a smoke-free standard, Atlanta, Georgia is among other cities that have already chosen to implement stricter guidelines for public smoking.According to CBS News, since mid-2013, city-owned parks and public beaches, college campuses and other outdoor venues have been under a smoking ban, because of the danger second-hand smoke is thought to pose, especially to children.

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