Alaska borough mayor aims to ban smoking in public parks

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska Fairbanks North Star Borough Bryce Ward proposed a $50 fine for smoking in any park or area of a park posted as non-smoking, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Sunday.

State law already prohibits smoking in the seating areas of outdoor sports arenas and within 10 feet (3 meters) of playground equipment when children are present. The proposal reinforces state law at the local level, Borough Parks and Recreation Director Mike Bork said.

Fairbanks borough code does not cover smoking or vaping except where it applies to tobacco distribution excise tax, officials said.

The borough assembly plans to discuss the measure in committee Dec. 5 and hold a public hearing Dec. 12.

The idea for a local prohibition arose as officials discussed where to post signs in compliance with the new state law, Ward said in an email.

“Since the law was changed and all facilities are required to be posted with the appropriate state signage, the question arose for facilities such as Pioneer Park,” Ward said, noting that officials considered whether to post no-smoking notices at each building or for an entire facility.

“We have received a small number of comments in the past regarding smoking in parks (mainly during large events) and felt it was more manageable to do the whole park,” he said.

Ward’s measure would allow park areas to be determined by the borough’s parks and recreation department and commission.

City police, Alaska State Troopers and the borough’s code enforcement officer could impose the fines, Ward said.