A new law legalizing public use of marijuana as of Aug. 1 has Winnebago City Council looking at updating the city’s smoking ordinance.
A proposed ordinance drafted by City Attorney David Frundt defines smoking as, “The inhalation, exhalation, burning or carrying of any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, pipe or other lighted or heated product containing nicotine, marijuana or another plant — natural or synthetic.”
Also, devices such as e-cigarettes and vape pens fall under the definition of the ordinance.
Although smoking pot cannot be regulated on private property and locations, it can be on or near public property.
Frundt says council members must decide whether they want to allow people to light up outside on Main Street.
“That front side sidewalk can be regulated, in fact the alleyway can be regulated by this if you don’t want smoking there,” he says. “That’s the issue. Do we want to limit smoking to just the back side or prohibit it completely?”
Council members agreed with Frundt that prohibiting smoking on Main Street might not be fair to businesses whose customers might step outside to smoke.
“I guess I’m of the belief that they can all go behind their buildings, rather than on Main Street,” says Judi Hynes, city administrator.
The ordinance would not allow smoking on property owned, leased, rented, contracted, used or controlled by the city, as well as in personal motor vehicles parked on such property.
Also, smoking would not be allowed within 25 feet of entrances, exits, windows, ventilation intakes of public places of employment and within 25 feet of any public or private school and church.
Councilman Paul Eisenmenger says persons should be allowed to smoke outside, but not on public property such as City Hall and parks.
The council asked Frundt to draft an ordinance designating parks, churches, schools, daycare centers and city buildings as smoke-free areas. But, they decided to wait on the Main Street issue.