(Atlantic) The Atlantic City Council Wednesday night voted against a proposed Tobacco Free Policy and Ordinance for Sunnyside Park. This was the first reading of a Policy drawn up by the Cass County Public Health Task Force which included Cass County Public Health and Community Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Karla Akers, Teddi Grindberg, with Healthy Cass County, and Jolene Smith with the Atlantic Parks and Rec Board. The Council members voting no on the first reading included; Bob Cord, Dana Halder, Linda Hartkoph, Ashley Hayes, Kathy Somers, and Chris Jimmerson. Lori Stuart cast the only yes vote.
During a Public Hearing the Task Force Presented a Power Point Presentation to the City Council outlining the five year old “Smoke Free Air Act,” as well as statistics addressing cigarette butt litter, and the bad example for our youth.
Former City Councilman Steve Livengood, who stated that he was a non-smoker, also spoke against it.
“I am opposed to it,” stated Livengood. “I don’t think we should engineer society, we don’t let people smoke in public buildings because we are trying to keep our employees health insurance down. I submit that if you believe that second hand smoke in a picnic shelter is bad, then you have never tried to put a paper plate on a picnic table. Because most of the time the wind blows pretty hard.”
Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Karla Akers says this is not about second hand smoke it is about setting an example for the young people of the society, which is why they brought this policy to the Park board.
“It’s not about second hand smoke exposure, it’s not about the litter, those were things that we added to the Policy because those were objections,” stated Akers. “I am here to implore you to make a statement to our young people and their future health. Because there are 4,000 young people that start using tobacco everyday.”
Several of the Council members stated that they had received some negative feed back from constituents in regards to the proposed ordinance, including Kathy Somers.
“I don’t feel it is the city’s job to make a statement to children, when smoking, or using any type of tobacco isn’t illegal in this country,” said Somers. “Children need to get examples from their families, not city government, and I think it would be a shame to limit the privileges of our citizens just to be an example.”
“Quite honestly I am more concerned about what is coming down the road, medical marijuana,” stated councilman Dana Halder. “Kids are sitting at and their folks are..sitting there, and councilman Chris Jimmerson chimed in and asked the question, are we going to start controlling obesity too?”
The policy listed the following areas designated as tobacco free; trails, the outdoor recreational facilities, and all public buildings, grounds, restrooms, and athletic fields. The ban also included; spectator areas of athletic facilities during a sporting event, tennis courts, basketball courts, Skate Park, pavilions and within 25-feet of the playground equipment areas and shelters. It does not include the disc golf course. Punishment for those caught using tobacco will follow Chapter 142D.9 Civil Penalties paid to the city’s general fund.
Once again the council turned down the first reading of the proposed ordinance, 6-1.
January 23, 2014