Bethlehem adopts partial tobacco ban for parks

Smokers be advised: there's a new set of places in the Town of Bethlehem you can't light up.

The Bethlehem Town Board on Wednesday, March 9, unanimously approved (with two members absent) a resolution to make portions of the town's park facilities smoke free.

From now on, recreation fields, playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts and the town's pool facility will all be smoke free zones (smoking at the pool was previously off limits, as well).

The Town of Bethlehem joins 13 other area municipalities that have enacted partial or full smoking bans, according to the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition. That group will also be donating signage to the town to make the move cost neutral.

The town decided to go with a partial ban, leaving some areas out of the resolution, including the Capital Acres Golf Course.

We're trying to be as least restrictive as possible, said Supervisor Sam Messina before voting for the resolution. "On a golf course you have the scenario of playing golf with your group."

This differs from other parkland areas, where other patrons might be bothered by smoke or children might see the activity. Preventing children from being exposed to the habit is cited in the resolution as a chief reason for the ban.

The smoking restriction does not carry legal weight " in other words, police won't be able to ticket or arrest violators (the City of Schenectady is the only local municipality with a criminal law on the books). The Tobacco-Free Coalition has said voluntary compliance has been strong in other communities adopting similar bans.

The tobacco-free zones take effect immediately.""

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