Mandan and Bismarck park systems will consider making their green space smoke-free next week.
The Mandan Park Board, which surveyed its park users, will revisit the issue at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Both park entities were approached by the Go! Bismarck-Mandan Coalition to remove tobacco from the play areas.
The group will make its pitch to the Bismarck Park Board at its 5:15 p.m. Thursday meeting at the City/County Building.
A Mandan park committee recommendation favors banning smoking everywhere but parking lots and the golf course, Mandan Parks and Recreation Director Cole Higlin said Friday. The Mandan Park Board will make the final decision on what tobacco limits to set.
Higlin said tobacco use is already prohibited at most Mandan park facilities and there are signs posted. He said the new proposal also will keep it off park trails, adult softball areas and the Dacotah Centennial Park area.
He doesn’t expect expansion will cause a bigger maintenance issue for staff.
“It probably causes no more or less littering,” he said. “Receptacles could be added (for the cigarette butts).”
Higlin said 292 park system users responded to a survey about a tobacco ban for facilities, either online or using one that had been sent to them by email.
Nearly 44 percent said second-hand smoke at outdoor park facilities bothered them a lot. Twenty percent said it bothered them a little and 29.2 percent said it didn’t bother them at all.
Those polled also were asked if they were bothered by smokeless or spit tobacco. Of the responders, 26.6 percent said it bothered them a lot, 37.2 percent said it bothered them a little and 36.2 percent they weren’t bothered.
Of the Mandan park system users polled, 61 percent favored banning it at the golf courses and 38 percent said they were opposed. Nearly 60 percent wanted it banned on trails and 40 percent were against barring tobacco on trails.
About 80 percent said they wanted tobacco use banned on athletic fields and playgrounds. Eighty-one percent wanted its use banned at concession areas and 67 percent wanted tobacco off Dacotah Centennial Park, according to the Mandan poll.
Higlin said common sense would come into play, and people would follow the rules without staff intervention to enforce it.
“We hope this serves as a possible message to the youth,” said Higlin.
“Go! Bismarck-Mandan is asking us to do this in the playgrounds only,” said Bismarck Park Board member Wayne Munson. “Personally, I favor that idea.”
He said there could be issues with enforcement.
Bismarck Parks and Recreation Executive Director Randy Bina said the proposal sounds reasonable.
He doesn’t expect the park district will incur many extra costs for its 44 playgrounds. Go! Bismarck-Mandan has offered to pay for stickers for both park entities.
“Most park users are respectful of others (in their tobacco use),” he said.
Bina said, if approved, the park district might model the playground policy after the state smoking ban for buildings and keep tobacco use 20 feet away from a playground.