St. Paul City Council again amends proposed public smoking ban; vote expected next week
The St. Paul City Council again delayed a vote on a proposed smoking ban in certain areas of the city after passing a new amendment to the ordinance Wednesday.
Council President Amy Brendmoen said the City Attorney’s Office recommended including a severability clause to the proposal to protect the city against any legal challenges. The clause allows for individual sections of the ordinance to be removed if they are deemed invalid or unconstitutional.
The severability clause passed the chamber by a unanimous vote. A final vote on the ordinance is expected at next week’s meeting.
Amendments approved during last week’s meeting limit the ban to city parks and also within 25 feet of entrances, exits and windows of public spaces and places of employment within the city. The change would also allow business owners and the director of Parks and Recreation to create designated smoking areas.
The original proposal called for a ban on smoking tobacco, hemp and cannabis products in all city-controlled public places.
In addition, when people are caught smoking in prohibited areas, the first violation would be enforced through education and requesting compliance. After that, any violations may result in a citation.
Previously, a proposal called for anyone who smokes in a designated non-smoking area to receive a petty misdemeanor.
“I think it’s OK that we make smoking inconvenient. We know the devastating effects of secondhand smoke, and we know the devastating effects of firsthand smoke,” City Council Member Chris Tolbert said at last week’s meeting. Tolbert, who represents Ward 3, first introduced the proposed legislation.