Effectiveness of Dover Smoking Ban Questioned - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Effectiveness of Dover Smoking Ban Questioned

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DOVER, Del.- A sign outside the Dover Public Library warns smokers to light up elsewhere, though the dozens of cigarette butts lying in the mulch beds next to the entrance on Thursday suggest many people aren't complying with the new rule.

The library was one of the main locations targeted in an outdoor smoking ban at city-owned properties that was recently passed by city council members. It was aimed at improving public health and preventing fires from discarded cigarettes.

City Manager Scott Koenig said the ban lacks a mechanism like fines to punish people who violate it. He hopes residents will "self-police" the restriction in a non-confrontational manner while the city considers how to enforce the ban.

"It is a behavior change that is going to take some time to saturate the general public, but hopefully it's a smooth ride to get there," he said.

Koenig said the ban currently applies to all city-owned properties like government offices and parks but also covers municipal vehicles.

However, signage about the ban is absent from places like Silver Lake Park, where many visitors on Thursday were unaware about the change.

George Metcalf, a Dover resident who said he smokes and uses vaping devices, isn't bothered by the ban in parks.

"There's a lot of litter involved in cigarette butts and that's probably what (the city is) going at, mostly because there isn't much risk of secondhand smoke in an outdoor environment," he said.

Dover Councilman Roy Sudler pushed for an amendment to the legislation that enacted the ban to expand its reach to all city-owned properties. He said the restriction may require time to become effective, but felt it will eventually lead to a healthier community.

"Not only for residents and citizens of the City of Dover, but (the ban) also gives the kids an opportunity to grow up in a clean and healthy environment," he said.

Jack Twaite, a Smyrna resident and former smoker who often visits Dover parks with his children, said he's in favor of the ban because it protects children.

"In order to ban smoking for good, you have to ban it from the whole park because people, if they think can smoke down there, eventually they're going to move it back up to where the children are at," he said.

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