Heads-up before you light up at a Grand Rapids city park or playground: smoking and vaping are now banned.

The Clean Air and Public Places Ordinance, which passed in October, is in effect as of January 1, 2020.

The ordinance, which is an update to the existing Clean Indoor Air Ordinance, prohibits the use of tobacco and electronic smoking devices at all city parks and playgrounds. It also bans throwing cigarette butts on the sidewalk or grass. Use of marijuana products remain prohibited (it was already prohibited by state law).

The City of Grand Rapids says the ordinance promotes healthy living, reduces exposure to second-hand smoke, and reduces litter.

If you're caught smoking in a city park, what will happen? Well, it sounds like you'll have multiple chances to comply before facing consequences:

If park visitors refuse to comply after multiple requests and verbal warnings, they would be liable for a civil infraction ($25 fine) or participation in a smoking cessation program with connections to community resources. We recognize that smoking is addictive and as such we will continue to work with local partners to provide educational resources and support for tobacco-free living.

The City says the new ordinance is "not intended to punish anyone, but rather to create healthy and accessible public places."

The exception to the new ordinance is Indian Trails Golf Course, which caused controversy when the ordinance was passed in the fall. Here's how the City of Grand Rapids explains it:

Smoking tobacco products is still allowed at Indian Trails Golf Course. Although it's owned by the City, the golf course has a different set of guidelines since it is a business. For example, alcohol can be served and consumed on the course, but not in parks and public spaces.

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