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Streetsboro officials say stronger smoking laws unnecessary

by mike lesko | Reporter Published: April 2, 2014 12:00 AM

Streetsboro -- Tightening regulations for smokers on city property would be taking government one step too far, according to several City Council members.

"I just don't like regulating people into submission," Council member Bridget Pavlick said. "Why make another law if we don't have to? Why put one more restriction on people or businesses that we don't have to?"

City Council member John Ruediger has said he believes restrictions on smoking should be tightened in Streetsboro, as has been done in North Royalton and Strongsville, where people are prohibited from smoking on public property.

Ruediger said he has seen people smoking outside the entrance to Streetsboro City Hall, which could violate the law.

Ohio law does not specifically define how many feet a smoker must be from the entrance of a public building, but "it does mean that smokers must be located at a sufficient distance to ensure that smoke does not enter the building through points of ingress or egress to that building," according to Assistant Law Director Matthew Vazzana.

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The first violation of any law under Ohio's Smoke Free Workplace Act calls for a warning letter to the city or the individual committing the infraction, while the penalty is a $100 fine for any further violations to the person caught smoking, Vazzana said.

Law Director David Maistros said the state code is enforceable in a community -- "today, yesterday and a month from now" -- whether that law has been adopted or not by a city.

Ruediger, who brought up the topic for discussion March 10, said strengthening the policy might encourage smokers to make more conscientious choices about where they light up.

"I really believe this is progressive and something that I'd like to see our city consider, and I think it would move us forward," Ruediger said. "I really do think, with it being a safety and health issue, it's something we should positively promote in the city."

Council member Regis Faivre believes there is no reason to pass "an extra law for something we really don't need."

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"You need to actually talk to these people [in North Royalton and Strongsville] -- not just what you read here [on their city's printouts] -- because you're going to find out [the laws] don't work anyway," Faivre said.

Resident Chuck Kocisko told Ruediger he was "overreaching."

"It's too much government," Kocisko said. "You're trying to put in another law [that we don't need]. When you take these people who may have been smokers for the last 30, 40, 50 years and tell them you can't smoke out there, [it's not easy to enforce]. Most of the time, if you tell these folks who are smoking to walk away, they're going to walk away."

Kocisko said he wants to see "our police officers catching the bad guys" not going after smokers.

Pavlick agreed, saying it would add needless duties for officers "cruising the soccer, baseball and football games [looking for people smoking]."

Pavlick also believes it would "put a big dent" in outdoor events like Streetsboro Family Days by discouraging people from attending, adding she's not in favor of strengthening anti-smoking regulations on city property.

"I'm not a smoker, but I grew up in a house with smokers," Pavlick said. "It's a lot different than it used to be. That's why I suggest we look at what we have and modify it and allow people to have some responsibility for themselves. We don't want to overdo this. I can't get real behind this [idea to increase regulations]."

Council President Julie Field said she doesn't think the city needs to pursue new policies, adding, "We have some policies in place."

Even Ruediger admitted, "I've never been in favor of making anybody a criminal out of this."

The issue was moved to Council's April 14 safety committee meeting.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9439

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whizzard Apr 5, 2014 9:58 AM

I meant to say our city DOES have vision and I think it was a frivolous move on Ruediger's part to bring up something that shouldn't have been brought up at all.  Just putting up a few signs, designating an area would have sufficed and they didn't have to go to council to do that.

We need to focus on the important part of the city and it's progress rather than wasting the council's and mayor's time on these kind of issues.  It goes beyond micro managing of the populace.  There are far more things in this city that produce more pollutants than cigarettes and not a single person is batting an eye at them.

Are we going to limit the amount of water one may consume in the park to go easy on using the restrooms?

Or how about limiting the amount one can cheer?  They get pretty noisy you know.  How about Friday nite Football, don't they exceed the noise ordance?

Where does this kind of government stop and common sense take over.

It stops by removing those from office who don't have enough sense bringing it to the table in the first place.

Martin Fleming

Martin Fleming

whizzard Apr 3, 2014 9:28 AM

So you think he was behind the repair of Frost Rd?


I'm pretty sure that was on the schedule before he made office.

If our city doesn have anything, I think it is vision.

John must of have one eyed covered when he brought up the smoking thing.

I thought you stated on Facebook that you lack logic?

Something about your daughter getting all ten logic questions and you didn't get any?

Explain how you feel this is slippery slope comments cause I think I may be missing it.

Martin Fleming

Martin Fleming

carmenlaudato Apr 2, 2014 3:04 PM

Yes Martin, I rather enjoy driving down a pot hole free Frost Rd lol.  I don't care for slippery slope illogical arguments. 

whizzard Apr 2, 2014 1:41 PM

I would think it would be extremely appropriate.

What did Ruediger think this would do?  He is a prime example of doublespeak, especially in this article.  It shows how one can present an idea without fully thinking it through.  He initially presented this idea and at the end of the article he states his intentions were not to criminialize.  Huh?  This is wishy washy politics at best from Ruediger.  And by the way, you said "silly" smoking ban.  This is only the beginning and if this is an example of his style of leadership, your ward may be in big trouble.  Focusing on a smoking issue when there are really bigger problems the council should be focusing on.  Better use of our Police department than making them playground gurards?  Really?  Do you  see yet why this wasn't an issue to begin with?  Our coucil had to spend time on this?  For what?

This was not a health measure in any way shape or form.  For if it is, then we should go ahead and ban all outdoor burning including those who use wood or charcol for their cookouts, we will need to probhibit Brown Derby from cooking with wood or any other establishment that uses any type of fuel other than gas to cook.  We will also have to consider those vendors who attend family days and those who bring in grills.  Or should the public avoid patronizing or attending these establishments or functions?  You see, if it starts here there's not telling where this stifling law would lead.

So tell me, what has his representation brought to your ward or better yet can you be a little more descriptive on how he has represented you or your ward?   Is there anything he has brought to the council that concerned your ward and has it been initiated?

Has he brought to the councils attention of something that is wrong in your ward and needs fixed?  I'm just curious.

Martin Fleming

carmenlaudato Apr 2, 2014 1:11 PM

I believe that a most inappropriate use of anyone's time and resources would be to petition the removal of an elected official because they wanted to advocate for a silly smoking ban.  As a person in councilman Ruediger's ward (ward 2) he has aptly represented me in my family on council and his intentions for this health measure was not to diminish education or burden taxpayers....

whizzard Apr 2, 2014 10:38 AM

I think it may be time to start a petition to remove council members like Ruediger.  Our community is safe because of the high integrity of our police force and their ability to do their job and instituting a ban on smokers would cause the police department to spend too much time on a frivolous endeavor such as this smoking ban.

This is not the reason we voted these people in office and it is a great feeling to know we have council members who realize how stupid this idea was to begin with.

Just drop this issue althogether.

Putting greater hardships on the smokers, you know the ones who built the Baseball stadium and the football stadium will quickly diminish those funds and then they will turn to the general populace to build these structures.  Sales tax will be increased all around to fund these projects when I'd rather see the sales tax increase to help education rather than putting the burden on the home owner.

Like I say, Ruediger needs to go.  I hope someone in his district realizes this and start a petition to get him removed before he causes some real damage in this community.

Martin Fleming