Tougher smoking ban passes for downtown Eugene

The new law bans smoking in public plazas, sidewalks, and alleys in the downtown core.

Posted: Jul 24, 2018 12:15 AM
Updated: Jul 24, 2018 12:24 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Leave those cigarettes behind if you're headed downtown.

Councilors on Monday night approved a tough new law that expands the limited smoking ban in the downtown core. 

Under the new law, smoking is prohibited in public places like Kesey Square, as well sidewalks and alleys. Businesses can ask the city manager for permission to opt out of the ban. Likewise, businesses outside the downtown core can apply for permission to opt in.

The new law, which passed on a 6 to 2 vote, will take effect 30 days after the bill is signed by Mayor Lucy Vinis.

Councilor Greg Evans, who represents the Bethel area, spearheaded the measure.

"My father died when I was 4 of cancer," Evans said in an interview. "He was a heavy smoker and I've had several other relatives that have passed away from smoking-related diseases. Smoking is something that we should prevent and we should discourage by all means possible."

Councilors Betty Taylor and Mike Clark voted against the ban. Taylor suggested that smokers would find ways around the new rules.

"They know they can't smoke on the streets downtown, (but) they can go really fast to a nearby neighborhood," she told KEZI 9 News after the meeting. "And then they'd be smoking in front of someone's house. It's not my personal problem. But I do think it will have unintended consequences."

Also at Monday's meeting the council approved a controversial buffer zone for new marijuana stores by a vote of 5 to 3.

Under the rules, new marijuana stores cannot open within 1,000 feet of an existing pot shop.

Councilors Alan Zelenka, Claire Syrett, and Taylor voted against the move.

Vinis, who only votes in cases of a tie, spoke in favor of the ban.

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