Deerfield to update 1996 ban on smoking
By MACKENZIE ISSLER The Recorder
Published on November 30, 2007
DEERFIELD – The Board of Health is planning to update its 1996 smoking ban after it was informed that its current language wouldn’t hold up well in court.
The selectmen, who serve as the Board of Health, were visited by Joan Hamlet of the state Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program at its meeting last week. Hamlet offered to help update the smoking bylaw.
Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness said the board plans to update the language, fines and enforcement in the ban, and bring it to its next annual town meeting in April.
Ness said the fines have to be made consistent with state law, which sets a minimum of $100. Right now, she said Frontier Regional School is fining $50 for a first offense.
“We don’t have a problem here, as far as I am aware of, but we would like to be current with the language so there are no issues if we have to go to court at some point,” said Ness.
Ness said the board has been told it should have designated Board of Health agents, such as school administrators and teachers, to enforce smoking at Frontier. Then, the board would handle the paperwork and do follow up on the fines. “Right now, there isn’t any way to track anything,” said Ness.
“This will improve the communications.”
Frontier Superintendent Regina Nash said she was not aware of any enforcement issues at the school and that it does not collect the fines.
Nash said the school sends a letter to the parents of a child who has been caught smoking at the school, indicating that there is a town bylaw against smoking at the school and that there is a fine that is payable to the town.
Ness said the board plans to meet with Frontier before the warrant closes on the next annual Town Meeting and plans to work with Hamlet to update the smoking bylaw.
Hamlet said the town’s Board of Health could set the enforcement regulations, which means it wouldn’t go to Town Meeting.
However, Ness said the board went to Town Meeting for the original smoking ban and plans to go back to town meeting to vote on the updated bylaw.
“It makes sense to go back to town meeting,” she said.