Rumford selectmen OK more restrictive tobacco policy

RUMFORD — Two days after Roxbury selectmen last week OK’d a more restrictive tobacco-free policy for town employees, Rumford selectmen followed suit.

Rumford already had a policy banning smoking in and around municipal buildings. But the new policy adopted Thursday also bans smokeless tobacco products within town-owned or leased buildings, vehicles, equipment, or on town-owned or leased properties.

It also prohibits non-employees and visitors from smoking on town-leased or owned property.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia told selectmen that the new policy is modeled after last year’s change in Maine smoking laws to provide a safe and healthy work and public environment.

“There was new legislation last year that has prompted towns to redo their smoking policies,” Puiia said. “Now it’s illegal to smoke in town vehicles. It also includes smokeless tobacco use in a vehicle and on town-owned property.”

“A guy plowing the streets all night can’t smoke or chew tobacco?” Selectman Greg Buccina asked Puiia.

“They can do it on their break but not in the vehicle,” Puiia said.

“Well, I think that stinks,” Buccina said.

“Can you smoke in the mill?” Board Chairman Brad Adley asked of Buccina, who is employed by Rumford paper mill NewPage.

“No,” Buccina said.

After more discussion, Buccina said the town has had a no-smoking policy since 2005, but asked where the enforcement is of people waiting outside for court and smoking and leaving their cigarette butts behind.

“What’s the sense of a policy like this when you can’t enforce it?” he asked.

That’s when Selectman Jeff Sterling pointed out a paragraph in the new policy states: “Non-employees and visitors who are smoking on town-leased or owned property will be approached by a town of Rumford employee and asked to either extinguish their tobacco, cease to use it, or to go off of town property.”

“Right,” Puiia said. “I’ve received numerous complaints about young people or people I should say, hanging out outside the library and smoking, and it discourages or it intimidates or it makes the person who wants to enter the library uneasy. Again, it relates back to promoting a healthy lifestyle.”

Puiia then gave the board an out, telling them that if they felt they didn’t want such a restrictive policy, they could table a decision until Puiia modified the document.

“This was actually the most restrictive of all the (state) templates, but in my opinion, if you’re going to do something like this, why not go all the way?” Puiia asked.

Sterling said his only objection was the “will be” in the paragraph he read.

“’Will be,’ that means it’s required, right?” he asked. “For any town employee, if you see it, you have to stop. Do we want to make all town employees the ‘Tobacco Police?’ Because that’s what it boils down to.”

Sterling said the rest of the policy was fine, but he didn’t like the “will” and suggested changing it to “may.”

He then motioned to approve the new policy, but change the wording in that paragraph from “will” to “may,” and the document was unanimously approved.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

KELLY SCOTTI's picture

This is ridiculous. I'd like

This is ridiculous. I'd like to ask Puiia to produce the complaints he's received. As for the comment about smokers outside the hospital - recently I spent an enormous amount of time there over the period of 6 months. I never experienced what this writer claims.
With all of the problems this town/state has to grapple with, this is what the board deems important.
You know what, outlaw smoking - or how about standing up to your principles and refuse any tobacco money - considering the sales tax is about $5 a pack I would think you'd be looking for ways to accommodate these law abiding, TAX PAYING CITIZENS.

Policy Changes should

also extend a little further into the area of the grandfathering clause that was created in order to cover up the tax office blundering that is costing the town money. And could have cost even more on a discriminatory basis.

Steve Bulger's picture

In a near-future article in the SJ,

Rumford selectmen unanimously approved a new ordinance banning the consumption of soda, potato chips, big Macs, ice cream and all other unhealthful foods and beverages on town-owned and town-leased property in order to promote a "healthy lifestyle".
In other news: Rumford voters will be called to a special town meeting to elect five new selectmen because the current board hasn't been seen since they were met at the municipal building by a vicious mob of [quote] pudgy [end quote] Rumford adults, teens and toddlers carrying torches, pitchforks, tar and feathers. Apparently, the new ordinance proved to be "unhealthy" for the town fathers.
/parody

 's picture

Hospital

Now if the Rumford hospital would adopt a policy, so we don't have to walk through a smoke screen when entering the facility, that would be progress.
It is totally disgusting for a health care facility to allow this to happen.

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