GOULDSBORO — Smoking any tobacco, synthetic nicotine or plant-derived product is no longer allowed inside or within 20 feet of the town office, recreation center, women’s club, fire stations and other town-owned facilities.
The town’s newly adopted tobacco-free policy includes the transfer station and public areas such as the Prospect Harbor park and Jones Pond recreational facility. The ban applies to all town-owned, leased or rented vehicles. Violators will be fined a $100 civil penalty.
At their March 31 meeting, selectmen voted 5-0 to adopt the policy, which forbids “inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, pipe or joint or any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product intended for inhalation, including hookahs and marijuana, whether natural or synthetic in any manner or in any form” inside or less than 20 feet from its municipal buildings and outdoor facilities. The use of electronic smoking devices, “which create an aerosol or vapor” and non-smoked marijuana products such as edibles and dabs or extracts are prohibited too.
The policy, which took effect April 1, defines tobacco as all products containing or derived from tobacco such as “cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, cigarillos, bidis [unprocessed tobacco wrapped in leaves], kreteks [unfiltered clove cigarettes]” and all smokeless and dissolvable tobacco products such as “dip, spit/spitless, snuff, snus and nasal tobacco.”
Select Board Chairman Dana Rice says Gouldsboro has always had an unwritten ban on smoking inside and outside its municipal facilities, but the time has come to formalize it.
“I am a smoker. I smoke a pipe. I know others find it offensive and it’s unhealthy,” Rice said Monday. “It’s a nasty habit, but I don’t look down on anyone who smokes.”
The initiative to draft and enact a policy followed a Jan. 20 selectmen’s meeting where Healthy Acadia’s Community Health Coordinator Mia Petrini made a case for Gouldsboro to join other Hancock County towns in adopting a tobacco-free policy. Bar Harbor, Ellsworth, Hancock, Mariaville, Mount Desert and Tremont are among the other communities that have put such a policy in place. In her presentation, Petrini noted that 2,400 people die of smoking-related illnesses every year. Tobacco use causes 29 percent of all the state’s cancer deaths. She said tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States. No exposure to secondhand smoke is safe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children are especially at risk from exposure to secondhand smoke because their lungs are still growing.
“I do realize the importance of secondhand smoke on a younger generation,” Rice said at the Jan. 20 meeting. “I think we should look at it.”
In the newly adopted policy, smoking is prohibited within 20 feet of any municipal facility including the entrance, doorways, windows and vents.
“Smoking is never allowed in any location that allows smoke to circulate back into the business facility,” the document says. The rule also applies to the town of Gouldsboro’s fleet of work vehicles including any leased or rented.
To publicize the policy, tobacco-free signs are to be posted inside and at all municipal buildings’ entrances. The rules will be incorporated into training manuals and new employee orientation.
Healthy Acadia is a nonprofit organization that works with communities in Hancock and Washington counties and as far afield as Piscataquis County on issues ranging from food insecurity to substance use prevention. As part of its tobacco-free program, the organization provides resources for people to quit smoking. To learn more, visit healthyacadia.org.