Legislature amends law banning tobacco on county land

MAYVILLE – Those waiting to hear whether tobacco and tobacco products will be prohibited on county property will have to wait another month.

Legislator Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg, proposed an amendment to the local law prohibiting the use of tobacco, tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and herbal cigarettes on all real property owned or leased by Chautauqua County during Wednesday’s full legislature meeting.

The amendment would allow residents and visitors to smoke in county park and forest land, except inside roofed structures, and within 100 feet of roofed structures.

“I am convinced that, as far as county park and forest lands are concerned, this law is unnecessary, unrealistic and unenforceable,” Erlandson said. “Chautauqua County park lands consist of some 50 miles of hiking trails, approximately 50 miles of waterway trails, two overview parks totaling something more than 100 acres, plus that Madison Park in Falconer.”

Erlandson also said the county owns 822 acres of forest land. He said he objects to breathing in second-hand smoke; however the risk of doing so in park and county land is minimal. Erlandson also objected to citizens reporting other citizens for smoking.

George Borrello, R-Irving, also spoke, questioning the resources the county would be putting toward tracking down reported smokers, if the amendment was not made.

Additionally, Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, questioned the involvement of CSEA in drafting the local law. County Executive Greg Edwards responded to the question.

“There were a significant number of CSEA members who were part of the committee, and served on the committee and who appeared regularly,” Edwards said. “They were part of the discussion. Their interests were considered. This effort we are undertaking fits the mission of Chautauqua County. Our mission is to protect and preserve the health and well-being of all citizens of Chautauqua County.”

Timothy Hoyer, D-Jamestown, told the legislature that due to his asthma, he does not like it when his own neighbors smoke outdoors. He argued that if he were to go to a public place, such as a park, he should not have to suffer because someone else was smoking.

The legislature voted 22-2 in favor of amending the local law. Bill Coughlin, D-Fredonia, was absent from the meeting. The only two legislators voting against the amendment were Hoyer and Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk.

Because of the amendment, the local law was tabled. It will be resubmitted to be voted on as amended by legislators during their August meeting.