AUGUSTA — City councilors banned smoking and all other forms of tobacco use on all city property, indoors and outdoors, Thursday.

Councilors and Board of Education members also took their oaths of office.

Councilors approved the tobacco use ban unanimously.

The new tobacco ordinance bans the use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snuff, cigars and all other forms of tobacco on all city grounds, other than areas which will be designated for smoking outside some city buildings.

Councilors said the dangers of second-hand smoke have been well-documented, in addition to the unpleasantness of having to inhale the smoke of others while outside in a park or in the bleachers at a ballgame.

“There is no doubt, that even in a second-hand manner, tobacco smoke causes cancer and other things,” said Councilor David Rollins. “No one wants to be at a game sitting in a cloud of smoke. Trust me, when you’re a non-smoker, it’s readily apparent.”

Violators of the new ban could be subject to a $50 fine. Before that, though, city parks staff or police would warn violators to stop, according to Dahlin.

Councilor Dan Emery asked how chewing tobacco had an impact on the health of others.

Community Services Director Leif Dahlin, who drafted much of the tobacco ordinance after reviewing simiilar ordinances from other municipalities, responded that the problem with chewing tobacco is some users spit on the ground while they chew. He said the spit can contain communicable diseases, including HIV, and spit left on the ground by someone chewing tobacco could be touched by a child playing on the ground.

Resident Carol Aft encouraged the city to put some sort of container for cigarette butts at designated smoking areas to help prevent smokers from littering cigarette butts on the ground and potentially starting fires if their butts aren’t fully extinguished.

City councilors taking the oath of office at the start of Thursday’s council meeting said there are more prosperous times ahead for the city.

“I hope you will join me and the current members of the City Council in believing, in spite of these hard economic times, that we can grow and prosper,” said Jeffrey Bilodeau, an at-large councilor elected in November.

Elected in November and sworn in to new positions for the first time, in addition to Bilodeau, were Susan Campbell, chairwoman of the Board of Education; Laurence Ringrose, an at-large Board of Education member; and Deborah Towle, Ward 2 Board of Education member.

Campbell said the Board of Education has an open door policy and encouraged people to attend meetings and let board members know their views on school issues.

Re-elected to the council and taking their oaths of office again were Ward 1 Councilor Michael Byron and Ward 4 Councilor Mark O’Brien.

“Finally, Augusta is on the move,” Byron said. “There have been a lot of false starts. It’s really happening now.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

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