Hopkins aims to ban all tobacco at sporting events

The Cranston Herald ·

Citywide councilman Ken Hopkins believes that not enough parents know about electronic cigarettes, also known as vapes or Juuls. Starting with a change to the city ordinance regarding smoking in public places, he wants to raise awareness of the growing phenomenon of “juuling.”

The proposed amendment to the ordinance includes a ban of chewing tobacco and smokeless tobacco from municipal buildings and athletic and recreational facilities. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and e-cigarettes are already banned from these places, but Hopkins wants to use this ordinance to also reinforce these laws.

Hopkins also said that enforcement of the smoking ban has been difficult, especially at sporting events in the city where he said people are smoking in the stands, spitting tobacco, and kids are using electronic cigarettes.

He believes that these e-cigs, which commonly look like a USB port for a computer and don’t produce much odor, are being used by kids without their parents knowing it. He said that there’s “some ignorance on the parents part,” as they might see these Juuls and not know what they are.

Superintendent Jeannine Nota said that vaping is not a widespread issue in schools, but they have seen an “uptick” recently in use and possession of e-cigarette paraphernalia. She said that from her understanding students are able to buy Juuls online without their parents’ knowledge.

Per the ordinance, any athletic/recreational facility means any playing field, court, playground, or other recreational facility owned by the city. Municipal building means all buildings, except school buildings, owned/leased by the city and includes the areas within 20 feet of the building. No person, employee or otherwise, is allowed to use tobacco products of any kind in these places.

A fine of $100 or less is imposed on people who disobey this ordinance. Hopkins said that in the past the coach of a team may have had to talk to parents who are smoking in the stands, whereas now the police department should be called to enforce the city law.

As for “juuling,” Hopkins said that he wants to continue to get the message out to parents that their kids are doing this, possibly without them knowing.

“We want to keep bringing it to the attention of the schools, school administration, parent groups,” he said. “We also want to look into keeping an eye on the places that are selling the stuff too, maybe be more vigilant with keeping an eye on them.”