COVINGTON — The Covington City Council has approved the banning of tobacco products from being used in city parks. The city has only two parks that do not fall under the Recreation Commission’s jurisdiction: Academy Springs Park and a small park at the corner of Pace Street.
Other parks within the city limits, such as City Pond Park and Turner Lake Park, were already included in the ban of tobacco products for Recreation Commission and county-owned and operated parks and facilities, approved by the Board of Commissioners in December.
Although the related ordinance prohibits the use of tobacco products, Laura Bertram, director of the Newton County Community Partnership, told the City Council at its Jan. 22 meeting that, “We are not banning tobacco. What we are doing is creating tobacco-free spaces for children who are especially vulnerable to tobacco.”
A grant obtained through the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Departments will pay the full cost of signs that will be placed in parks to notify the public, Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey said.
All told, more than 20 parks and facilities are affected by the ban, which will go into effect April 1. A public education campaign will precede the effective date.
Hailey said he is also asking the city of Oxford to partner in the ban and may also approach other municipalities.
The ordinance approved by the Board of Commissioners in December prohibits indoor and outdoor use of all types of tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, at all times. The Recreation Commission is in charge of 16 facilities that will be affected, along with four county-owned parks that are not under the Recreation Commission’s jurisdiction: Lake Varner, Factory Shoals, Chimney Park and the Square Park in downtown Covington, as well as the two city-owned and operated parks.