AHRON SHERMAN/MinerMembers of KYCBUTT stand with bags of cigarette butts picked up at local parks on two occasions. From left, KHS juniors Savanna Smith and Brianna Brown along with KAHS sophomore Madi Williams and senior Stephanie Strain.
Continue to smoke ’em if you got ’em – even if you’re standing 10 feet from a playground at one of Kingman’s city parks.
Despite a convincing presentation from members of the Kingman Youth Coalition Beating Up Teen Tobacco, the Kingman City Council decided not to send staff out to create an ordinance to ban smoking in all city parks Tuesday.
Instead, Council directed staff to gather more information. It wants to see the costs associated with placing cigarette butt receptacles in the parks, get input on what types of signs could be used to dissuade smokers from lighting up near playgrounds, hear some creative ideas as to how to go about curbing smoking in parks and wants to know what is happening in Goodyear. Goodyear is the only town in Arizona to have banned smoking in parks.
Councilwoman Carole Young explained that a full on ban is unrealistic. Some attention needs to be paid to the rights of smokers, she said.
“They pay taxes, too,” she added.
Young, however, would support designated smoking areas at parks.
Each of the members of Council, including Mayor John Salem, said they received emails and phone calls from people who believe a ban on smoking in parks is unfair to smokers.
“This is a situation we can’t win,” said Councilwoman Janet Watson.
If the city bans smoking in parks, it steps on the rights of smokers. If it doesn’t ban smoking in parks, it marginalizes the complaints coming from nonsmokers.
Council must be cautious, Watson said. It cannot rush to a decision on this, she added.
Vice Mayor Robin Gordon said there is a reason only one city in the state has a ban on smoking in parks. Proponents of a ban argue that once there’s an ordinance along with clearly marked “no smoking” signs at the parks people will begin self-policing. Gordon believes that could create a bigger problem. She voiced concern that once people start telling each other to put their cigarettes out, arguments that require the police to intervene could ensue.
Gordon said she wants to see a plan that accounts for the different views because smokers pay for the parks, too.
As far as the litter created by smokers tossing their butts on the ground, Salem said something should be done about that. But the city – to this point – hasn’t offered them places to dispose of the butts, Salem said.
“What choice do they have?” he asked.
There are options outside of a one-size-fits-all ordinance, Salem said. He asked the people hopeful for a ban to be patient with the city and added that Council really needs to look at what it can do to curb the problem.
Councilwoman Erin Cochran, who quit smoking about a year ago, said that smokers – for the most part – would willingly go to designated smoking areas if the city provides them.
Madi Williams and Brianna Brown, the presidents of KYCBUTT, said they wouldn’t be opposed to designated areas. They are of the opinion that if something is done the problem of people smoking near playgrounds and flicking their butts in the grass would diminish.
As for enforcing an ordinance, the girls said there’s no need for a patrol or to issue tickets, as people will begin following the rules on their own, thereby reducing the amount of secondhand smoke and cigarette butt litter in the parks.
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