Smoking will now be banned from Manchester’s downtown public parks.
Late Tuesday night the city’s aldermen OK’d the proposal, which will be a pilot program lasting six months. The parks include Victory, Veteran’s, Pulaski and Bronstein as well as Stanton Plaza.
This policy change came about after law enforcement told city officials they saw an uptick in people smoking the synthetic marijuana known as "spice" disguised as cigarettes. Last month the city saw more than 20 spice overdoses.
Assistant Police Chief Carlo Capano also stressed to aldermen that this ban will help to clean up the local parks.
“Some of these parks – I hate to say this but they are disgusting. They are terribly littered and it’s not a spot where people want to bring their families and that’s coming from somebody with a family in this town," Capano told the board.
The ban refers to all tobacco related products including cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes. During Tuesday's debate, those for the ban argued it's a health issue that will cut down on second-hand smoke. Those who were opposed argued it would infringe on people's rights to smoke freely.
The first offense will be a $50 fine followed by a $100 fine for the second and the third will require a trip to district court but Capano said officers will use discretion.
Whether the ban will become permanent or expand to more parks in the city will be brought up by the board in February.