No smoking on Church Street

A smoking ban approved by the Burlington City Council on four blocks of Church Street.

The Burlington City Council met Nov. 10 to vote on the ban, which was passed 11 to 3, according to City Council members. Bianka Legrand of Ward 7 was in favor of the ban.

The smoking ban will help families with small children feel more welcome on Church Street, she said.

Legrand sees both sides of the issue, because of her mother.

“My mother is a smoker, I am not,” she said. “She isn’t happy about it but she certainly understands because of her small grandchildren.”

“It would be nice to not have to walk through a cloud of smoke when I walk along Church Street,” Sophomore Abigail Holmquist said. `
Rachel Siegel of Ward 3 has a different concern with the smoking ban.

“I have a sense of the powers that are interested in cleaning things up in a way that doesn’t include people who don’t fit the image of prosperity,” she said. “That concerns me gravely.“

This concern almost persuaded her to vote against the ban, Siegel said.

Karen Paul of Ward 6 and Ron Redmond, director of the Church Street Marketplace Commission, disagreed about this concern. There are thousands of outdoor smoking bans across the nation, Paul said.

The entire downtown area of Atlanta and Times Square both have outdoor smoking bans, Redmond said.

“It was not an easy decision for me,” Siegel said. “Really what it comes down to is that I am a huge opponent of the big tobacco companies. I think they’re corrupt and I don’t think they should be supported.”

In a survey conducted by the Church Street Marketplace Commission, 86 percent of Chittenden County residents do not smoke.

Another smoking ban was discussed and passed by the City Council in 2012, but then vetoed by Bob Tisch, the mayor of Burlington at the time, Siegel said.

Mayor Miro Weinberger accepted the smoking ban that just passed Nov. 10, Redmond said.

“So maybe it was just the change of administration also,” Siegel said.

Paul doesn’t agree that the change of administration is the main reason that the smoking ban in 2012 did not pass through and this one did.

The smoking ban ordinance vetoed by Tisch involved a ‘pay to play’ concept, Paul said.

“Basically if you could pay at a restaurant, then you could play or smoke,” she said.

The ordinance in 2012 also banned smoking in a wider area of downtown, Siegel said.

This smoking ban completely prohibits the use of all lighted tobacco products as well as all tobacco substitutes, such as electronic cigarettes at all times between the four blocks of Church Street from Pearl Street to Main Street, according to the Church Street Marketplace Commission.

The first violation will result in a warning, the second violation will be fined $50 and the third violation will be fined $100, according to the Church Street Marketplace Commission.

Further plans are underway to prohibit the use of lighted tobacco products and tobacco substitutes in all Burlington parks and beaches, according to Nancy Kaplan, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

“We first passed a modified smoking ban in 2011 where people are not allowed to smoke within 25 feet of a play structure or any other structure,” Kaplan said.

“What we’re trying to do now is ban smoking in the parks entirely,” Kaplan said.

The process to get this ordinance passed begins with the Parks Commission. They will hold a series of meetings to get input from the community.

The commissioners will then vote on whether or not to pass on the recommendation to the City Council, she said.