Newport Mayor David Stewart wants the Newport City Council to hear from the public on an ordinance that will be read a second time during their regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 1.
According to Stewart, the City was approached by the Arkansas Department of Health Community Development Specialist Jennifer Reaves wanting them to consider an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in all publicly owned locations. The ordinance was put together with the help of Jackson County Health Officer Guilford Dudley and Retha Dudley.
The ordinance, called “Smokefree Air Ordinance of 2018” will prohibit smoking in any facility or on any property owned or maintained by the City of Newport; prohibits smoking in enclosed public places; prohibits smoking in enclosed places of employment; and prohibits smoking in outdoor areas. According to the writing of the ordinance, all enclosed areas, including buildings and vehicles owned, leased or operated by the city, as well as all outdoor property adjacent to such buildings and under the control of the city, will be subject to the provisions of the ordinance. Enclosed public places will include: areas available to the general public in businesses and non-profit entities patronized by the public, including but not limited to banks, laundromats, professional offices, and retail service establishments, bars, bingo facilities, child care and adult day care facilities, educational facilities, elevators, health care facilities, hotels and motels, polling places, private clubs, restaurants, restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways and other common-use areas, rooms, chambers, places of meeting or public assembly including school buildings, under the control of an agency, board, commission or committee or council of the City of Newport.
Under a section titled “Prohibition of Smoking in Outdoor Areas”, the ordinance states “within a reasonable distance of 25 feet outside entrances, operable windows and ventilation system of enclosed areas, where smoking is prohibited so as to ensure tobacco smoke does not enter those areas; in, and within 25 feet of all outdoors sports arenas, stadiums, and amphitheaters; in, and within 25 feet of all pavilions and playgrounds located within city-owned parks.
The areas where smoking is not prohibited will include: private residences, except when used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility, private vehicles, retail tobacco stores.
Dr. Dudley has spoken to the Council on the importance of the ordinance and was met with opposition. In previous meetings it was discussed openly by the aldermen and problems ranging from difficulty to enforce to personal feelings of infringement on citizen’s rights were brought up.
Violation of the ordinance is punishable by a fine not exceeding $50. Violation by an owner of a covered facility who fails to comply with the ordinance will result in a fine not exceeding $100 for first violation, $200 for second within one year, and $500 for each additional violation within one year.
“I want the public to be aware of what’s on the table and to hear from them on this matter before a decision is made,” Stewart said Tuesday. The mayor said he will open the floor for a public discussion when the ordinance is brought up for the second reading.
The Newport City Council meets every first and third Monday at 6 p.m. in the Newport District Courtroom.