The smoke is beginning to clear.

After being deferred twice, the Ann Arbor City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in certain parts of the city.

The ordinance received eight votes. Only Councilmembers Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2), Sumi Kailasapathy (D–Ward 1) and Jack Eaton (D–Ward 4) voted against the ordinance.

The ordinance would prohibit citizens from smoking within 20 feet of any bus stop or city building as well as within certain areas of specific city parks.

While the official penalty for violating the ordinance is $50, the new legislation would ensure that offenders must first be asked to extinguish any outlawed product before receiving a citation.

Another pressing issue with the ordinance has been who has the responsibility to enforce the law. Councilmember Chuck Warpehoski (D–Ward 5) amended his legislation to guarantee that only police officers can write citations and give warnings, whereas the ordinance previously stated that any city employee reserved such power.

Further, the bill’s sponsors Warpehoski and Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3) also allowed an amendment by Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) that added e-cigarettes to the list of banned smoking products explicitly laid out in the ordinance.

Councilmember Stephen Kunselman (D–Ward 3) expressed concerns about the lack of focus on preventing smoke from wood burning as well, and added that smokers having the ability to walk down the sidewalk while smoking near buildings would be cause for worry.

He added that he does not believe there should be a fine for violating the ordinance since the ordinance will be “self-regulating.” He instead asked council to eliminate the fine and revisit the possible need for it after evaluating the effectiveness of the ordinance’s self-enforcement for one year.

Warpehoski responded to Kunselman’s concerns regarding the penalty by stating the proposed legislation was not simply a suggestion.

“We have a code of ordinances,” Warpehoski said. “Not a book of suggestions.”

Warpehoski also responded to concerns of some councilmembers — including Lumm and Kailasapathy — that implementation of this ordinance by law enforcement officers would detract from their focus on more pressing issues.

Warpehoski cited a study regarding a similar smoke-free ordinance as evidence that such claims are unsubstantiated. A 2014 study of municipal costs stemming from Ontario, Canada’s smoke-free ordinance found that no significant costs were incurred as a result of the ordinance.

Ellen Rabinowitz, Washtenaw County’s interim director of public health, spoke at the meeting in favor of the legislation. She noted that of the 12 years that a similar smoke-free ordinances have been in place throughout the county, only about 400 complaints have been made — none of which were complaints about repeat offenders. Rabinowitz noted that the bill has been “largely self-enforcing.”

UHS director Robert Winfield, the University’s chief health officer, also attended Monday night’s meeting to give imput regarding the University’s smoke-free policy.

“This is a difficult subject, but when we were considering the issues for the University of Michigan we understood that we wanted to behave in a respectful way to smokers,” Winfield said. “But we also wanted to set up a healthy campus.”

Winfield added that a combination of social pressure and education has limited the number of smokers causing issues on the University’s campus.

“Our central campus is a very nice example of a practically smoke-free place with no heavy-handed enforcement,” Winfield said.

The council also unanimously passed a resolution against Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s efforts to appeal the March 21, 2014 decision of DeBoer v. Snyder overturning the ban on same-sex marriage.

Although the resolution is largely symbolic, it follows the on city council’s precedent of supporting rights for LGBTQ citizens.

While Councilmember Taylor is the sponsored the resolution, five other members of city council signed on as co-sponsored including Mayor John Hieftje, Margie Teall (D–Ward 4), Lumm, Briere and Warpehoski.

Taylor criticized Snyder’s defense of the appeal and the lauded Judge Friedman’s decision.

“It does not advance any conceivable legitimate state interest,” Taylor said.

Warpehoski also spoke on the issue, and said he hopes the resolution will move the city and state forward to a day where “marriage is just marriage for everybody who loves each other.”

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