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Dilworth City Council bans smoking in parks

DILWORTH -- The City Council here has passed a resolution banning smoking in Dilworth's parks, joining dozens of Minnesota and North Dakota cities that have created similar laws.

"It's about the health of kids," said Cheryl Stetz, vice president of the Dilworth Park Board. "I think kids deserve a right to be able to play and be active in a smoke-free environment."

Stetz introduced the law, which the City Council considered April 28. The mayor was absent, but the four other members of the council unanimously approved the law.

"It's just the wave of the future," council member Rick Cariveau said. "Smoking is being pushed out here."

Stetz said the law went into effect immediately and bans the use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from all city parks. She said residents will be expected to follow the law, which will be posted on signs, but violators won't be fined.

Dilworth imposed its ban independently of Tobacco-Free Youth Recreation, a 12-year-old program that's helped 155 cities and counties in Minnesota outlaw smoking in parks, program director Emily Anderson said. One of those cities was Moorhead, which banned tobacco use in its parks in November 2011.

Anderson said parks across the country are adopting tobacco-free policies, especially in states that have already prohibited smoking in bars, restaurants and other workplaces.

"Parks are kind of meant to be healthy, active-living places," she said. "I think it's part of that overall trend of tobacco-free places."

In North Dakota, the cities of Kindred, Valley City, Beulah, Cooperstown, Garrison, Harvey, Jamestown, Wahpeton, Rolette, Milnor, Mayville and Langdon have no-smoking policies in their parks, said Holly Scott, tobacco prevention coordinator at Fargo Cass Public Health.

Fargo and West Fargo allow smoking in parks. But in Fargo, smoking and disposing of cigarette butts is banned within 25 feet of playgrounds.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Archie Ingersoll at (701) 451-5734

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