City eyes ban on smoking in parks

Oak Harbor officials are considering an ordinance that would prohibit smoking in city parks.

During Tuesday’s teleconferenced meeting, city council members discussed a proposed ordinance that would make smoking in a park a citable offense.

There was some question, however, as to how the Oak Harbor Police Department would enforce such an ordinance.

Police Chief Kevin Dresker expressed concern about the ordinance, saying he was hesitant about new rules that perpetuate a potential “us against them” perception between police and average citizens.

Dresker said that if the ordinance passes, he anticipates that reports about citizens walking and smoking in the park would be low priority for the officers if they have a lot of other calls.

“I also see it as something we would utilize when necessary due to the circumstances of what’s occurring and how it’s affecting other citizens in the area,” Dresker said.

He added that officers would likely cite someone or remove them from the park if they were smoking in a crowd.

Council member Joel Servatius said he was generally against prohibiting someone’s right to smoke but said there are circumstances when the ordinance would be pertinent.

“When it’s infringing on someone else’s right, that’s where I think it’s appropriate to step in,” Servatius said.

“Also, from a health perspective, we all know it’s probably not the healthiest thing to do,” he said.

No decision was made on the ordinance.

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