Smoking, vaping banned on Fairfield beaches, parks, school fields

Jennings beach in Fairfield, Conn., on Saturday Aug. 4, 2018. Fairfield beach attendance is up following rising prices to visit the beach in Westport.

Jennings beach in Fairfield, Conn., on Saturday Aug. 4, 2018. Fairfield beach attendance is up following rising prices to visit the beach in Westport.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — Beachgoers will no longer be allowed to take a drag from cigarettes, Juuls or any other smoking devices after a ban was implemented by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The revisions approved by the body amend Section 11 and 45 of the town’s rules and regulations concerning open space areas, particularly the beaches, parks and school fields.

Section 11 paragraph C details that Jennings Beach will have “designated smoking areas” from Memorial Day Saturday until Labor Day Monday. Section 45 paragraph B states that smoking is not allowed “at any youth recreational or sporting event by anyone except in designated parking lot areas.”

The agenda item, which had been discussed at a May 15 meeting, was delayed until the June 19 meeting to give members of the public a chance to weigh in. No members of the public did so on Wednesday’s meeting.

Before the amendments were made, members proposed word changes and debated if vaping should be included in the ban.

“I can’t support (this measure) if it includes vaping,” Commissioner Alexa Mullady said in reference to the proposed ban. “As a former vaper…(vaping) doesn’t produce secondhand smoke, there’s no odor to it.”

Members discussed what exactly entailed smoking and if vaping was harmful to others.

“My concern, coming through the Board of Education lens, where we’re constantly being told that it’s a huge problem in middle school and high school,” Jessica Gerber, the BOE liaison in the commission, said.

Members debated the essence of vaping and potential side effects but ultimately proposed it be included in the smoking ban, an amendment that passed with Mullady in opposition.

“I will be voting against it, because I'm not agreeing with the vaping part of it, I do agree with the smoking part of (the ban),” Mullady said.

The board, after the amendment passed, approved the revisions to the rules and regulations unanimously.

The changes, approved by the commission, now prohibit smoking and vaping on all town beaches, including concession areas, and on all town parks and school fields.

At the state level, Gov. Ned Lamont recently signed a bill that prohibits the sale of tobacco, electronic cigarettes or vaping products to anyone under 21 years of age.

Director of Parks and Recreation Anthony Calabrese said that signs would be placed eventually to deter beachgoers from smoking and that self-enforcement would be encouraged.

While Parks and Recreation staff can help inform about rules and regulations, they are not responsible for enforcing said rules and as such would refer anyone not complying with regulation to police.

“Our job is just to establish policy,” Scott Walker, chairman of the commission, said.