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Smoking not allowed at Medford parks

Back in the spring of 2014 you reported that City Council banned smoking in parks and city-owned properties, and last year had a story about no-smoking signs put in parks. I called the Medford police nonemergency number after I saw two people smoking cigarettes at a playground, and they basically laughed at me. What happened with the ban? 

— Allison, via email

We called Medford police Lt. Kevin Walruff, who confirmed that cigarette smoking in parks is against Medford code.

"They should not be smoking in the park," Walruff said.

With the exception of one designated smoking area at U.S. Cellular Community Park, consuming tobacco in any form is not allowed in parks and city-owned facilities, according to Medford Municipal Code 5.265. Those caught by Medford police disobeying the posted signs could be subject to a $250 fine. The code forbids cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking, as well as e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Smoking marijuana anywhere in public, including parks, is against state law.

Walruff said contacting the police when smokers cause a nuisance is a reasonable thing to do. Walruff said the code violation happens "a lot," but it can be a challenge to get a patrol officer on the low-priority call. Incidents where people could be in danger, such as fights and domestic disputes, are handled ahead of violation complaints.

If an officer spots someone smoking, however, the smoker could face consequences.

“If it’s in our presence, they’re definitely subject to a citation,” Walruff said.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.