City ordinance prohibits smoking, vaping, use of tobacco and vapor products at City parks, playgrounds, greenways, greenbelts, and public property

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ABOUT: Oak Ridge City Council has passed changes to an ordinance that you’ll need to pay attention to at City parks, playgrounds, greenways, greenbelts, and ballfields – especially if you smoke or vape. 

In August 2020, City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting smoking on the grounds of any city-owned playground. The change passed at the December 2021 City Council meeting expands the prohibition against smoking on playgrounds to include the use of vaping products.

Additionally, the change expands the prohibition to the use of tobacco products and vapor products at parks, playgrounds, greenways, greenbelts, and other city-owned property (which includes ballfields) that are accessible by youth such as – the Oak Ridge Civic Center (Recreation Building) and common areas outside of the Oak Ridge Public Library. The prohibition does not apply to parking lots. 

As a reminder, smoking and vaping are already prohibited inside City-owned buildings. This ordinance does not change any rules already in place respect to inside buildings.

There are exceptions that the City Manager is authorized, but not required, to make. The City Manager can establish designated areas within these properties where smoking and/or the use of tobacco products and/or vapor products are allowed. Those areas would be designated with appropriate signage. At this time, none have been designated. 

This ordinance shall become effective Dec. 23, 2021, which is 10 days after it was adopted by City Council on the second reading. While warnings may be issued by law enforcement as part of the education effort, enforcement through the use of citations shall not occur prior to February 1, 2022. After this date, violations can be reported by calling the Oak Ridge Police Department non-emergency line at (865) 425-4399.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs):

How can find a copy of the ordinance?
Where can’t I smoke or vape?
  • City-owned parks, greenways and other city-owned property (which includes ballfields) that are accessible by youth such as – the Oak Ridge Civic Center (Recreation Building) and Oak Ridge Public Library.
Can I smoke or vape in my car at a parking lot of a City park or property?
  • Yes – the prohibition does not apply to parking lots.
Where are the designated areas (at City parks, playgrounds, greenways, and ballfields) where I can smoke? Are there exceptions to the ordinance?
  • At this time, there are no designated areas. However, the ordinance does allow exceptions that the City Manager is authorized, but not required, to make. The City Manager can establish designated areas within these properties where smoking and/or the use of tobacco products and/or vapor products are allowed. Those areas would be designated with appropriate signage.
  • As stated above, the prohibition does not apply to parking lots.
What are some examples of areas considered public property accessible by youth?
  • City-owned parks, greenways, ballfields, the Oak Ridge Civic Center (Recreation Building) and Oak Ridge Public Library.
  • A “playground”, as listed in this ordinance, is any city-owned indoor or outdoor facility that is intended for recreation of children.
What’s considered a greenway?
  • “Greenway” means (1) an open space area following a natural or man-made linear feature designed to be used for recreation, transportation, and conservation, and to link services or facilities; and/or (2) a paved, gravel-covered, woodchip-covered, or wood-covered path that connects one greenway entrance with another greenway entrance.
Where are the City-owned greenways?
Where are the City-owned parks and playgrounds?
What are considered ‘grounds’ when referring to City grounds in the ordinance?
  • “Grounds” means the entire real property upon which a City-owned park, playground, greenway, or public property is located, as determined by the property lot lines, including any permanent or temporary restroom facilities but exclusive of the parking areas.
  • “Grounds” specifically does not include buildings, sidewalks, or roads for all public property other than playgrounds.
When and how will this be enforced?
  • This ordinance shall become effective Dec. 23, 2021, which is 10 days after it was adopted by City Council on the second reading. While warnings may be issued by law enforcement as part of the education effort, enforcement through the use of citations shall not occur prior to February 1, 2022.
How can I report a violation?
  • After February 1, 2022, violations can be reported by calling the Oak Ridge Police Department non-emergency line at (865) 425-4399.
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