Council Delays Outdoor Smoking Regulations

A vote on a new ordinance that would prohibit smoking in specific outdoor public areas in Ann Arbor has been postponed by the city council. Made punishable under the ordinance through a $50 civil fine would be smoking within 20 feet of: (1) bus stops; (2) entrances, windows and ventilation systems of the Blake Transit Center; and (3) entrances, windows and ventilation systems any city-owned building.

The city council action came at its Feb. 3, 2014 meeting. The council will take up the issue again at its March 3 meeting.

The ordinance would also authorize the city administrator to have signs posted designating certain parks or portions of parks as off limits for outdoor smoking, and to increase the distance from entrances to city buildings where outdoor smoking is prohibited.

Where no signs are posted noting the smoking prohibition, a citation could be issued only if someone doesn’t stop smoking immediately when asked to stop.

An existing Washtenaw County ordinance already prohibits smoking near entrances, windows and ventilation systems, according to the staff memo accompanying the resolution – but the county’s ordinance can be enforced only by the county health department. The memo further notes that the Michigan Clean Indoor Air Act does not regulate outdoor smoking.

Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) sponsored the ordinance. At the council’s Oct. 21, 2013 meeting, he had announced his intent to bring forward a proposed ordinance regulating outdoor smoking, and reported at that time he’d been working with city parks staff on the issue.

At the Feb. 3 meeting, it was Warpehoski himself who asked for a postponement. Among the reasons he cited were some wording issues that had needed to be cleaned up, as well as the desire to get input from the city’s park advisory commission. [.pdf of highlighted proposed ordinance]

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.