Council bans smoking near Duluth bus sheltersSmokers will need to give a wider berth to city bus shelters in the wake of a new ordinance passed Monday by the Duluth City Council.
By: Peter Passi , Duluth News Tribune
Smokers will need to give a wider berth to city bus shelters in the wake of a new ordinance passed Monday by the Duluth City Council.
By a 7-2 vote, the council agreed to prohibit smoking within 15 feet of a transit shelter, responding to concerns about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Smoking inside shelters already is prohibited by state law, but Duluth will become the first city in Minnesota to create a larger smoke-free buffer zone.
Councilor Patrick Boyle thanked members of the East Hillside Patch group for their work on the issue. Young people in this organization surveyed bus riders this summer and found that 75 percent of respondents supported broadening the ban on smoking in bus shelters to a wider area. Several of these preteen activists attended Monday’s meeting, advocating for passage of the ordinance.
Tracy Onchwari, 12, said secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for children and people with asthma.
“It’s not a very safe thing,” she observed.
As a physician, Boyle noted that he has lost many patients to smoking and said: “I’m proud that Duluth will be a pioneer on this issue.” He also predicted other communities will follow suit.
Although Duluth will become the first city in Minnesota to pass such an ordinance, other cities, including San Diego; Pasadena, Calif.; and Corvalis, Ore.; have similar laws.
Councilors Todd Fedora and Jay Fosle opposed the ordinance.
Fedora voiced concerns that people could inadvertently find themselves in violation of the law while simply passing by a shelter.
“We are potentially creating scofflaws of people if they’re enjoying a cigarette while walking down the sidewalk,” he said.
Fosle suggested the ordinance likely wouldn’t be adequately enforced and predicted that it would be “another wasted ordinance that just sits on the books.”