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Smoking area to be set up during fair

HOULTON, Maine — Revelers planning to attend scheduled events hosted by the Houlton Fair Association will once again be able to smoke in a designated section of Community Park.

Town councilors approved a measure during their meeting on Monday evening to have a designated smoking area at Community Park for June 28 through June 30 and July 4 through July 7.

The Houlton Fair Association, which made the request, is also sending an application to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages Division of Liquor Licensing. The board is looking to sell alcoholic beverages during a BBQ and Music Festival and Mud Runs that it will be hosting during the June dates.

Smoking currently is not allowed at the Millar Civic Center or in municipal parks. The civic center sits on the edge of Community Park and there are signs up in the area telling citizens that they can’t smoke or use other tobacco products.

In 2018, however, councilors approved changes in the community’s public smoking ban to allow tobacco use in designated areas of the civic center and in municipal parks under specific situations.

The changes arose after discussion about the difficulty of enforcing existing ordinances and the interest of some groups in providing designated smoking areas when sponsoring events. The amendment allows the council to temporarily authorize people or groups who lease the civic center or municipal parks to designate an outside area for the use of tobacco products that complies with all laws. Lessees are responsible for cleanup of the designated area.

The fair association saw success with its smoking area during last year’s fair.

The news was welcomed by smokers who enjoyed the fair, including Jamie Steeves of Houlton.

“I love going to the fair and pretty much all of the events that the fair association hosts,” she said Thursday. “But it was always a pain to have to leave Community Park in order to smoke. I am glad they keep doing this.”

Monica Mitchell, another Houlton resident, agreed.

“My boyfriend and I both smoke,” she said. “I never understood the notion that it was okay for children to be sold sugary, fried snacks by the carnival personnel or to see people drinking in the beer tent, but it was terrible to allow people to smoke. This is a nice compromise, because it keeps smokers happy and assures that people won’t smoke around the kids in the park.”

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