Duluth Adopts Tobacco Free Policy

The next time anyone visits a Duluth park or attends an event on the Duluth Town Green, smoking will be prohibited.

The Duluth City Council adopted a tobacco free policy for the city’s parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities at its Dec. 12 meeting and extended the policy to the Town Green.

Duluth Parks and Recreation Director Kathy Marelle and Nicole Love, representing the Duluth Parks and and Recreation Advisory Board, presented information on the proposed policy to the council at its Oct. 24 work session. “Tobacco free is different from a “smoke-free” policy, which allows smoking in designated areas.

Adoption of the policy, which would prohibit smoking and tobacco use, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snuff, and smokeless tobacco, by staff and visitors at Duluth’s six parks and the community green 24 hours a day. The city’s policy is modeled after the Centers for Disease Control’s policy, so the city would be eligible for funding from the CDC for tobacco free signs that would be posted at applicable facilities.

The policy was discussed further at the council’s Nov. 28 work session where the Town Green was added to the list of tobacco free locations.

Duluth’s tobacco-free policy will be the first in Gwinnett. Tobacco free policies for parks are currently in effect in Athens-Clark County, Clayton, Henry, and Lumpkin counties and in the cities of Alpharetta, Roswell, and Marietta.

All five Duluth city council members voted to adopt the policy although Billy Jones questioned whether the policy might cause the city to lose bookings, such as for concerts on the Town Green or the barbecue cook-off at Rogers Bridge Park, if smoking were prohibited. The city allows drinking (alcoholic beverages) at some events, but would not allow smoking, he said. He also wondered about the impact of the policy on city employees who smoke.

“My personal opinion is that I would love for us to a leader [by adopting the policy],” said Councilwoman Marsha Bomar. “Health is important.” The policy would create a healthier environment in the city, she said.

While enforcement would be an issue, Councilman Greg Whitlock, said he had not noticed many people smoking in the parks or on the green. “People come to our parks for fresh air, and they should experience fresh air,” he said.

“Enforcement would be hard,” agreed Councilman Jim Dugan. “We can’t solve all the crimes, and we can’t catch all the speeders, and we can’t keep everybody from smoking, but we can set an example.”

By Faye Edmundson


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