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Cottage Grove council unanimously rejects smoking ban in city parks

Cottage Grove City Council members snuffed out a proposed smoking ban in city parks.

Council members unanimously opposed a policy that would have prohibited smoking in city parks with some exceptions allowed, including for private events and at the city-owned River Oaks Golf Course.

Council concerns included how to enforce a policy, which unlike an ordinance would have no legal penalty.

"It's kind of like a policy with no teeth," council member Dave Thiede said of the proposal.

Also, some council members wondered whether a smoking ban in outdoor parks would lead to new policy bans in other areas, such as backyard bonfires.

The council voted 5-0 against the proposal Wednesday, Jan. 2, but urged city parks staff to consider adopting a more casual campaign to encourage people not to smoke near children and nonsmokers in city parks.

The proposed ban had been endorsed by the city's volunteer parks and environment commissions and earlier presented to the council, which kicked it back to staff for more work.

However, there ultimately was less council support after its second look.

Council member Justin Olsen said it seemed there were two options: adopt a formal ordinance that could be enforced, or scrap the idea of a ban altogether.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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