Carbon County Commissioners Discuss Possible Smoking Ban at Public Gatherings

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Carbon County Commissioners met Aug. 20 during a regularly scheduled commission meeting to discuss the possibility of adopting an outdoor public smoking ban. The ban would only apply to county owned property, but some residents are concerned about the possibility of such a law taking hold.

According to county attorney Christian Bryner, the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act currently prohibits smoking inside public buildings and near entryways, but the act does not govern outdoor venues. Bryner presented a draft to the commissioners for review to determine whether or not such a law should be passed in Carbon County.

“You can make it (ordinance) as broad or narrow as you want,” Bryner advised the commissioners. “You can designate certain areas as smoking or non-smoking, but the law does not require that you do so.”

With that in mind, commissioners discussed which county owned properties would be impacted by a smoking ordinance. It was determined that recreation areas, golf courses, playgrounds, ballparks, fairgrounds, outdoor event centers and public ponds would all fall into the category.

Commissioners were most concerned about the golf course. Because part of the course is county owned, the property would fall under the scope of a smoking ban issued by the county government. However, the other half of the course is privately owned and a smoking ban would not be required on this portion of the property.

Because of the technicalities, commissioners agreed that the Carbon County Golf Course would be exempt from an outdoor smoking rule.

County commissioner John Jones offered the idea of designating smoking areas at venues such as the fairgrounds and other large gathering areas. “The law can be tailored accordingly,” Bryner advised.

As discussion continued regarding an outdoor smoking ordinance, concerned citizen Kathy Taylor addressed the commissioners and voiced concerns. “Other people have rights too,” she stated. “If you start this, you will see a difference in participation at public events and the number of people who want to go. I suggest you post signs at the gates and entryways and allow common sense to be used.”

Commissioners agreed that signage would be necessary, but explained that without an ordinance, signs would not do the job.

Enforcement of a smoking ordinance is also a concern to the commissioners. This, along with several other concerns, will need to be looked at before a final draft or decision can be made.

“You’re not going to like it, but you are going to have a lot of kick back over this,” Taylor concluded.

All three commissioners agreed that this issue needs to be researched further before any decision can be made.

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