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Fargo Park District moves toward ban on smoking at all events aimed at children

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FARGO - The Fargo Park District is moving toward putting a policy in place this spring to ban smoking from all events that are aimed primarily at children and families.

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The potential outline for such a policy was discussed by the Park Board's recreation subcommittee today.

Commissioner Joe Deutsch said the policy is needed for events like Movie Night, BMX Jam, and Midwest Kid Fest to ensure the surroundings are healthy, safe and enjoyable for children.

"We do need to recognize that it's a health concern and (that) we'll do everything we can to see them not get encouraged to start (smoking)," Deutsch said.

Subcommittee members agreed that smoking would continue to be allowed at events such as Fargo Rock Concert or the German Folk Festival, which attract primarily adult crowds.

"I don't want to ban smoking at the softball complexes," Deutsch said.

Or, as Commissioner Joe Vettel joked: "Anything they play polka music at, they can smoke at!"

Staff members said that with clear guidelines and good signage, putting a no-smoking policy in place for family-type events should be easy.

"I just can't imagine that we're not going to get 100 percent support from the community," Park District Executive Director Roger Gress said. "What the commissioners are proposing will be easy to take care of and to defend."

Gress said the district's attorney and staff members will create a sample policy and a list of events that are child- and family-oriented to present to the board in March. The policy would then be refined, he said.

Smoking is not allowed in Park District buildings, and the board approved an ordinance last year that bans smoking at the city's playgrounds.

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