The passage of a new law that allows the city to designate public streets and sidewalks as no-smoking zones clears the way for Bristol Hospital to push for a smoking ban along the municipal roads bordering its property.
Though the new ordinance approved unanimously by the City Council recently opens the door for smoke-free zones, officials say it’s likely they won’t see too many requests to impose the bans.
Bristol Hospital has led the charge on the issue because it wants to keep smoking away from its doors.
With no power to prevent people from lighting up on the city sidewalks just outside, the hospital’s executives said they were stymied unless the city made it possible to ban smoking there.
Marc Edelman, the hospital’s vice president of operations, said that establishing a smoke-free zone around the hospital would safeguard the health and well-being of its staff, patients and visitors.
City Councilor Craig Minor said that before an area can be designated as a smoke-free zone, the council would need to agree to send the request to the hearings and assessment committee that would review the pros and cons.
If the hearings panel recommended the creation of a smoke-free zone, Minor said, the council would again consider the issue, this time to back the decision or turn it down.
City Councilor Frank Nicastro said the hospital would be able to follow the necessary procedure to get what it wants.
But officials admit that it would take unusual dedication for smaller operations or individuals to seek similar designations for public byways bordering their property.
It’s possible that parks or schools might follow the hospital’s lead in a bid to keep smoking away, officials said.
The smoking ban that’s on the table includes language to ensure that Bristol doesn’t impose prohibitions in areas that state law specifically allows smoking, such as outside some restaurants.
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