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Grand Rapids City Commission bans smoking at public parks and playgrounds

The City Commission also banned the disposal of tobacco products, such as cigarette butts, on the sidewalks and in the grass.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids City Commission voted to ban smoking and vaping at all public parks and playgrounds Tuesday night. 

The ban includes all types of marijuana and tobacco products. 

The City Commission also banned the disposal of tobacco products, such as cigarette butts, on the sidewalks and in the grass.

The exception to these rules is the city-owned Indian Trails Golf Course, which drew criticism from Commission Jon O'Conner -- the only commissioner to vote against the measure. 

"So basically what we're saying is if I have enough money to go golfing at a golf course that's barely fiscally-sustainable, that's cool, I can have a cigar or cigarette," O'Conner said during the meeting. "But if I'm one of our homeless folks living down at Pekich Park or at Heartside Park, I can't smoke there anymore?" 

“We’re not going to entertain that sarcastic remark with a response,” said Commissioner Senita Lenear. 

“That’s not sarcastic, that’s the truth,” O’Connor replied. “Have we driven by either of these parks? We can’t control people from urinating in parks at this point, but we’re going to go ahead and say we’re going to stop them from smoking?”

City Manager Mark Washington said "by no means" will enforcing the ban be a high priority for police. 

The city says people violating the ban will receive a verbal warning to either stop smoking or leave the park. If a person refuses to comply, the city may issues a civil infraction.

The ban will go into effect on January 1, 2021.

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