DERRY — Instead of an ordinance prohibiting smoking, the town will post no smoking signs this spring in playgrounds and parks where children congregate.
Councilors listened to Acting Administrator Larry Budreau present the plan during Wednesday night’s meeting. They had the option of overturning the proposal but took no action in the session. By doing so, they consented to the plan to post the signs, and it will take effect in the spring, Budreau said.
The plan is not intended to prohibit smoking on town-owned property but is “just an effort to try to reach a courteous compromise so that people don’t smoke in the immediate vicinity of primarily children,” Budreau said.
Signs that don’t allow smoking within 25 feet will be posted at such sites as Alexander Carr Playground, Don Ball Park, Hood Park and Gallien’s Beach.
The town is taking the steps after a local mom’s encounter last year with a smoker at a playground.
Nicole Bump said she took her two children to Hood Park to use the playground equipment. At the park, she encountered a woman who was smoking a cigarette while pushing her children on the swings.
Bump said she had to tell her children they couldn’t use the swings because of fear they would be exposed to the second-hand smoke.
Bump, who lives in Councilor Al Dimmock’s district, contacted him to see what could be done.
Dimmock raised the matter with the council and then proposed that the town adopt an ordinance to ban smoking at playgrounds, meaning no smoking within 30 feet of playground equipment.
Budreau was asked by Dimmock to look into what would be required to bring the proposal to councilors. But after considering the plan, Budreau said the staff found that enforcing such an ordinance could be problematic. So the decision was made to use no smoking signs, as the town has done in the past year at public buildings such as the Derry Municipal Center. The signs do not permit smoking within 25 feet of the doors of public buildings. This approach has worked well and most smokers have maintained the proper distance while lighting up, Budreau said.