Library to ban tobacco use starting Saturday

By Chris Collins February 25, 2014 01:27 pm

By Chris Collins

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Smokers not only will have to leave the park and the Leo Adler Parkway to light up starting Thursday, but beginning Saturday they’ll also have to leave the library grounds.

Library Director Perry Stokes said members of the library district board of directors agreed at their Feb. 10 meeting to ban smoking, including e-cigarettes, and other tobacco use on library property, extending to the block surrounding the library’s exterior. The library’s property ends at the city sidewalk, Stokes said.

The city ordinance, which bans only the use of smoking products, will take effect Thursday.

The library district board worded its ban to include the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless types.

“We were concerned that people who smoked in the park might just cross the river and use the library as their smoking haven,” Stokes said.

Smokers congregate in the alcove area on the east side of the library that adjoins the park, at picnic tables in the north and south parking lots, and in the seating areas along the river, he said. 

In addition to the smoke that floats through the air, cigarette butts cover the ground in those areas.

“Unfortunately many people who smoke don’t have a problem with just throwing that litter on the ground,” Stokes said.

For the past year and a half, the library has employed a facilities and grounds maintenance worker  to care for the library property.

Picking up discarded cigarette butts is one of the less glamorous and more laborious aspects of the job.

“It’s butt by butt,” Stokes said. “It is not a quick process.”

The smoking ban on library grounds, which follows the city ordinance, includes a ban on e-cigarettes. The library board actually based its policy change on an earlier version of the city ordinance that prohibited the use of tobacco in city parks. 

Enforcement will begin with the library staff “kindly informing people of the policy and asking them to go elsewhere or to discontinue smoking (or using other tobacco products) on the library grounds,” Stokes said.

Failure to comply will result in the person being trespassed from the library and losing his or her library privileges for a period of time.

“This is part of our standard code of conduct compliance procedure,” Stokes said.

Use of e-cigarettes also is banned inside the library to ensure that the indoor air quality is not contaminated. 

“They are disruptive to others’ use and enjoyment of the library,” Stokes said.

There also is concern that the devices could be used to ingest illegal drugs, he added.

The library’s indoor ban includes all tobacco products as well.

“We do have people using smokeless tobacco (indoors), Stokes said. “When they are spitting it creates hygiene and cleanliness issues.”

Banning the use of all tobacco products also eliminates the issue of underage use on library property.

“It is helpful to have it banned altogether because we have so many minors around,” Stokes said.

Gary Dielman, library district board president, said directors unanimously agreed to adopt the policy as recommended by Stokes.

“I’m against tobacco,” Dielman said. “It’s better for everybody and certainly our youth — we don’t want them taking up cigarette smoking or tobacco use on our premises and I agree with what the city did.”

Stokes said that unlike the City Council’s adoption of the ban as an ordinance, the library board simply changed its policy to include the smoking ban and as such did not take public comment on the issue before voting for the change.

Those who object to the ban may express their opinions to Stokes during library hours or to library board members. In addition to Dielman, the board includes Betty Palmer, vice president, and directors Nellie Forrester, Kyra Rohner-Ingram and Della Steele.

“My office is generally open and library board meetings are public meeting,” Stokes  said. “Policy changes are based on staff and public comments made throughout the year.”

The board meets at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of each month in the library’s Riverside Meeting Room, 2400 Resort St.