The Selectboard approved tighter restrictions on the town smoking policy and expanded their definition of smoking, at a meeting on June 24.
In the previous policy, adopted in 2009, restrictions primarily prohibited smoking inside of public buildings and did not specify the policy for Town vehicles. After hearing complaints about smoking around entrances to public buildings, often used as a form of shelter in the harsh winter, the selectboard moved to prohibit smoking within 25 feet of entrances to public facilities.
Assistant Town Manager Geoff Urbanik moved to broaden the definition of smoking, as few rules exist around the use of new technology in the tobacco world, such as vape pens.
“Our proposed response to these complaints—particularly at the library—is to widen our definition of smoking, including smokeless tobacco, and establish a buffer around entrances to facilities and prohibit smoking on the Village Green,” said Urbanik in a memo.
The new definition includes but is not limited to “the use of flammable products, vape, electric or water devices, which by use create a smoke or vapor which may be inhaled as well as smokeless tobacco.”
In addition to being prohibited within 25 feet of entrances and exits to Town buildings, the new policy also prohibits smoking on the Village Green, which Urbanik defines as the Burnham Memorial Library, the Town Meeting House, and the Historical Society Building.
Smoking will be allowed in designated Public Works “smoking vehicles,” but prohibited in all other municipal vehicles.
While board member Herb Downing ultimately supported the policy changes, he expressed concern that it might be hard for folks to travel that far for a cigarette break. “If I’m a contractor and I’m working on the HVAC system at the library, and I need my cigarette break, do I have to cross the street? Go into the cemetery?” He asked. “Look at Tom’s plot?” he joked about fellow board member, Tom Mulcahy, eliciting chuckles from the other members.
In response to chairman Jeff Bartley’s inquiry as to how this new policy would be enforced, Town Manager Aaron Frank said that he didn’t see the policy as having a strict enforcement. Rather, folks inside buildings would be able to gain confidence in enforcing it themselves.