Smoking ban in parks inches forward
Nevada City moved a step closer Wednesday toward banning smoking at city parks for at least a trial period.
City Council members informally decided to move ahead with a proposal banning smoking at Calanan Park and Beryl Robinson Plaza, while restricting smoking to designated locations at Pioneer Park.
A resolution detailing the park smoking prohibition proposal is expected to be considered at the June 27 council meeting.
Nevada County Public Health officials and Nevada County Tobacco Coalition members are supporting the measure as a means to eliminate second-hand smoke and cigarette butt litter at the parks. The groups’ recommendation stems from a survey of downtown Nevada City business owners who indicated overwhelming support for smoke-free parks. But some are concerned the smoke free parks plan is a way to oust young adults some business owners might not want.
“My concern is that merchants believe a certain element will be driven away with this plan,” said Councilwoman Barbara Coffman. “I fear some people support this for all the wrong reasons.”
Public health officials agreed Wednesday to conduct a separate smoke-free parks proposal survey of residents in time for the next meeting.
Calanan Park, a pocket park at Broad and Union streets, is the main focal point for the smoking concern.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Tobacco Coalition members brought in a large Ziploc bag full of cigarette butts they said they collected at Calanan Park.
“There’s no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke,” said Joe Iser, director of Nevada County Public Health. “We want to protect those who can’t protect themselves (from the smoke).”
The ban Nevada City could soon support has its roots in California’s smoking ban in public buildings which passed in 1994. Since then, smoke-free initiatives have multiplied significantly, including most states, numerous countries, outdoor sports stadiums and city parks.
Nevada recently banned smoking at all public buildings except bars and gaming facilities, and England’s ban on smoking in public buildings starts July 1.
It’s unlikely the smoking prohibition would get unanimous approval at that June 27 meeting with Mayor Steve Cottrell saying his libertarian streak puts him squarely against the measure. But he also said the focus of the prohibition is “admirable.”
Councilman David McKay is avidly against smoking.
“I’m not trying to chase those people out of the park,” McKay said. “They’re not bad people. It’s just a bad lifestyle choice.”
To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@the union.com or call 477-4234.
A smoke-free worldview
• Nearly 90 percent of the 115,000 American restaurant-goers surveyed for the “2006 Zagat Survey America’s Top Restaurants” support 100 percent smoke-free buildings during dining. Seventy-two percent said they would dine out more if an establishment were smoke-free.
• A national 2005 Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans favor smoke-free public places.
• About 75 percent of interviewed California adults preferred smoke-free environments in bars in 2000, compared to the 68 percent found after the law’s earlier implementation.
• Nearly 90 percent of bar patrons surveyed in 2000 said they were “as likely” or “more likely” to visit bars since the establishments had become smoke-free.
• Support for Ireland’s smoke-free at work law, which went into effect in March 2004, remained strong one year later. Of those Irish citizens polled, 93 percent think the introduction of the law was a good idea.
Source: Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights
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