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Bozeman city commission voted Tuesday night to establish a resolution supporting tobacco-free city parks and trails.

The resolution designates all public parks in Bozeman as tobacco-free and gives the city parks department and health department the authority to post signage designating those parks as such.

The resolution passed 3-1, with Mayor Cyndy Andrus casting the lone “no” vote.

“Everybody who is a property owner pays for our public parks, and we have people who smoke that are taxpayers,” she said. “I also happen to believe that it’s a bit of an overreach here with government.”

Despite her vote against the resolution, Andrus said she understood the risks associated with smoking and respected the public and commission support for tobacco-free parks.

Not every piece of Bozeman parks or trails falls under the resolution, nor does every type of tobacco. Smoking, vaping and other tobacco use would still be permitted on trails that are in privately owned open space and trails that are in the right-of-way.

“We have an extensive trail network along Oak, for example,” said parks planner and development manager Addi Jadin. “That’s not officially a city park, so this wouldn’t apply there.”

Noncommercial tobacco used for Indigenous ceremonies is exempt from the resolution, in accordance with the 1996 American Indian Religious Freedom Act. But other forms of tobacco — cigarettes, cigars, pipes, vapes, chewing tobacco and “alternative smoking devices” — are all included.

Jadin and Gallatin City-County Health Department health promotion specialist Heather Demorest spoke to the commission prior to the vote.

Demorest detailed a pilot project between 2017 and 2019 at Glen Lake Rotary Park and Kirk Park in which the health department observed people smoking and collected cigarette butts and other tobacco litter in the parks.

The department then posted signage in the parks and on its social media asking the public to refrain from tobacco use while in the parks. In 2019, the department observed and collected litter again at the same time of year.

The project showed the signs and social media posts about tobacco-free parks did work to reduce tobacco use in those parks, Demorest said.

“We saw a drastic reduction,” she said. “This is an important and effective strategy.”

The presentation also explained some of the major differences between a resolution and an ordinance. Ordinances can carry a fine or other penalty. Resolutions are easier to pass, but don’t carry any fines or penalties.

Commissioner Terry Cunningham said he supported the resolution because he believes people should have the opportunity to recreate in Bozeman city parks without secondhand smoke. He said he hopes those who use tobacco might also see the signs, which will include information on resources for quitting, and consider dropping the habit.

“Addiction is a very difficult thing,” Cunningham said. “At one time in my life, I was a smoker, and (quitting) was one of the most difficult things to do.”

According to the commission memorandum on the resolution, the signs will be provided by the Gallatin-City County Health Department using money from the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program. Jadin said the signs will be installed this fall and next spring.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at or at (406) 582-2651.

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