WINTHROP — Cigarette smoking is not currently allowed on the town beach, but on Monday, the Town Council will consider whether to expand that ban to include newer smoking technologies such as electronic cigarettes. It will also consider whether to accept funding from Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, which wants to update the town’s smoking policies and post no-smoking signs in public spaces around town.

The council will take up that proposal after Town Manager Peter Nielsen and Town Council Chairwoman Sarah Fuller were approached by two residents and a representative of the health organization who pushed for the town to create a more thorough smoking policy and also to post a set of signs around town that reflects that policy.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale nicotine and other chemicals in a vapor form. Using them is also known as “vaping.”

Nielsen said he could not predict what the council’s reaction would be to the proposed rules and signage.

“I honestly don’t know how the conversation will go,” he said. “We may have a lively conversation, or it may be one-sided.”

The residents who proposed the changes were Amber Desrosiers and Emily Dooling-Hamilton. Desrosiers is the tobacco enforcement coordinator for the Maine attorney general, but she said that she was acting as a resident, not a representative of the state, when she met with Nielsen and Fuller about the proposed rules.

Joanne Joy is a coordinator with the Augusta health group, and according to Desrosiers, she approached Winthrop as part of an effort to promote better smoking policies around the region. Her group has funding to post signs and draft a new policy for the town, Desrosiers said.

Last October, the state adopted new rules that ban the use of electronic cigarettes in some public spaces, Desrosiers said, but Winthrop has yet to put rules in place that reflect the new law. It also needs to better publicize the rules, she said.

Nielsen said that some residents might object to a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes in public spaces. But he added that any new policy could allow for just temporary bans on the devices for special events. At Monday’s meeting, he will show the councilors an example of the type of sign that could be posted on days and times to reinforce new or established rules.

Other items on the agenda for the council meeting Monday night include a proposal to buy a lawn mower for the town’s cemeteries using bond funds; applications for 10 utility poles on Sturtevant Hill Road; a review of policies related to tax acquired properties; an executive session discussion of a proposed contract with AFSCME Council 93; a preliminary presentation of next year’s town budget proposal.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


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