Barnwell City Council approved a no smoking policy for its buildings, parks, vehicles and other city property.
While some facilities like Barnwell City Hall and Lemon Park have been smoke-free, the city hasn’t had a written policy in place. The policy approved during council’s regular August 6 meeting formalizes previous smoke-free rules while also expanding to include all city-owned buildings, parks and vehicles, as well as events held outside of city-controlled parks. This includes adjoining parking lots.
“We look forward to working with you and our citizens on promoting healthy living and increasing awareness of the relationship between tobacco use, second hand smoke and related health disparities,” said Mayor Edward Lemon in a letter to Axis 1 on Nov. 28, 2017.
Axis 1 approached the city in November 2017 about a partnership to make the area healthier through a 2018 Tobacco Free Collaborative Grant they were applying for. Axis 1 received the grant and has gathered information from local municipalities and school districts about existing smoke-free policies.
“They have now asked the City of Barnwell to help in this collaboration in promoting better health for citizens, visitors and employees of Barnwell,” according to a letter council members received about the new policy.
The new smoke-free work environment policy, which will be included in the employee handbook, states all enclosed areas of city work areas are smoke-free, but there are designated areas outside to smoke. Smoking is allowed in an employee’s personal vehicle, but the smoke must not leave the vehicle. This includes e-cigarettes and vape pins. “It is not acceptable for smoking or non-smoking employees to be subjected to smoke that they must walk through to reach their vehicles or any other destinations on city property,” according to the policy.
A tobacco-free parks policy is included that prohibits tobacco product usage at city parks because it can be harmful when in close proximity to children, youth and adults at recreational activities. Tobacco products are often discarded on the ground, which can pose a risk of ingestion to toddlers and cause a little problem. The third reason stated is that parents, leaders, coaches and officials are role models and using tobacco products around youth can have a “negative effect on their lifestyle choices.”
Signs will be posted on appropriate city-owned parks and recreation facilities, open spaces and trails. City staff will periodically monitor areas for compliance.
Smoking is also prohibited at city events not held at city facilities and parks, such as the Independence Day Celebration held annually at the county-owned Veterans Memorial Park.
The city’s adoption of a smoke-free policy follows action taken in July by Blackville Town Council to adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking, including electronic smoking devices, in all workplaces in the town limits. Town vehicles are included.
“Without exception, smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed workplaces within the Town of Blackville,” the ordinance states, and within 20 feet of those areas as well as outdoor seating of restaurants, arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters, and playgrounds.
A second reading is needed for the ordinance to take effect.
Williston Town Council previously passed a smoke-free ordinance in 2016 that applies to town facilities, vehicles and parks, including the Rail Trail. It bans all types of smoking and smoking devices, including electronic devices, except in certain designated areas.
As part of the grant they received, Hilary Hindman with the Axis 1 Center in Barnwell said she has been working with the towns to implement smoke-free ordinances. While all three school districts have smoke-free campuses, Williston District 29 is only one that also includes electronic devices. She is working with the other districts and career center to update their policies. Hindman is also working to get 10 workplaces in the county to commit to being smoke-free.
Hindman is also working with the two local senior centers and has held classes at the Golden Retreat Activity Center in Blackville on the harmful effects of tobacco usage.