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Bus stops to become no-smoking zones

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A new ban on smoking tobacco or any other substance within 20 feet of SMART bus shelters like this one looks set to take effect sometime in May following city council approval of the ban at its April 7 meeting. If you’re going to smoke in Wilsonville’s public spaces, you’re going to want to steer clear of bus stops.

The Wilsonville City Council voted 3-1 April 7 in favor of Ordinance 735, which prohibits the smoking of “tobacco or any other substance” within 20 feet of any South Metro Area Transit bus stop or shelter within the city. Councilor Richard Goddard provided the lone vote against the ordinance after his proposed amendment to exempt passers-by from the ban was turned down by fellow councilors.

The move follows a 2012 ban on smoking in all Wilsonville city parks and came at the request of SMART bus drivers, said Stephen Lashbrook, the transit agency’s director.

“This originated really with a message I received from a couple of our bus drivers last year,” Lashbrook told the council at its April 7 meeting.

Covered SMART bus shelters are typically posted as non-smoking, Lashbrook said. And in the experience of his drivers, people who were smoking normally were happy to move away from the shelter when asked. Until recently.

“Usually when they ask people not to smoke when other people are in the shelters people usually comply,” Lashbrook said. “But for whatever reason they had some people refuse to comply.”

Once the ordinance takes effect additional signs will be installed at all remaining transit shelters and stops indicating those locations are smoke-free. The ordinance will be enforced through fines, just as with the tobacco ban in Wilsonville parks.

As he did when the issue was first raised earlier this year, Goddard raised concerns the ordinance was too muddled in its language. Specifically, he said he worried that passing bicyclists and pedestrians could inadvertently be caught up in enforcement action if they were to be caught smoking within the restricted 20-foot zone. The ordinance already contains language exempting the drivers of passing cars.

“I don’t disagree with the information that’s included about the negative health effects,” Goddard said. “But who’s going to enforce this?”

“I’d just ask people not to smoke near the shelter,” Lashbrook answered. “It’s not the thing I’d expect the police to be out there issuing citations over immediately.”

“We’ve had that conversation with the police department,” City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said, adding that police hope to engage in community outreach about the ban using bike patrols and other methods. “The whole goal early on is to do some education. The idea is not to generate revenue or be punitive about this, but it’s to educate the public about the effects of secondhand smoke.”

The ordinance now will get a second reading at the upcoming April 21 council reading before taking effect 30 days after that.



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