Hilliard officials say they are optimistic residents will help enforce the city's imminent ban on tobacco use at all public buildings, facilities, parks and recreational areas.

"We believe our residents will respect the law and voluntarily comply," law director Tracy Bradford said.

Smoking and the use of tobacco products – including such devices as vape pens – will be prohibited effective Wednesday, Dec. 13, 30 days after Hilliard City Council voted to approve the ban, she said. Councilman Joe Erb abstained from the 6-0 vote Nov. 13 because of his employment as a lobbyist related to the tobacco industry.

City Council President Nathan Painter and Mayor Don Schonhardt asked Bradford to draft the legislation.

Painter said he requested the ban for the benefit of public health, especially at the city's two pools and largest parks.

"For me, it was just (about) smoking around children, especially near the pools and at the baseball fields," he said.

In addition, studies show that proximity to smoking increases the risk of developing addictive habits that could result in the abuse of drugs, Painter said.

The effects of the new policy include the abolishment of outdoor smoking at such facilities as the Hilliard Family Aquatic Center or the Hilliard Municipal Building, Bradford said.

"We hope that the public will self-police itself in complying with the no-smoking ban," she said. "We will erect signs in appropriate places, putting people on notice of the ban, and (use) social media to alert residents of this change in the law."

A person who refuses to comply would be asked to leave the property, Bradford said.

Whoever violates any provision of the new law also could be guilty of a minor misdemeanor and could be fined up to $150, Bradford said. Fines could increase to $250 for subsequent violations by the same individual, she said.

"Police enforcement is a very last resort, and in that situation, (a person is) likely dealing with more than just a smoking violation (such as disorderly conduct)," Bradford said.

One local exception to the ban will be the Joint Safety Services Building, 5181 Northwest Parkway, which is home to the Hilliard Division of Police and Station 81 of the Norwich Township Fire Department. It will not be subject to the ban because Norwich Township owns the building, she said.

The Franklin County Fairgrounds also will be exempt from the ban because the city does not own it, Bradford said.

Meanwhile, finance director David Delande said he does not expect the ban to affect the city's health-insurance premiums because it does not ban smoking among city employees, only smoking on city property.

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