Smoking policy changes considered for parks

There may be changes in the city’s current smoking policy in Derby parks. Smokers currently must stay 20 feet or more from doors into a public facility, as shown in the sign above that is posted outside the doors of the Pavilion in Madison Avenue Central Park.

 

A proposal to limit or ban smoking in the city’s parks ran into a number of questions when it was brought up at the July 9 city council meeting and thus tabled for possible action at a future date.

The subject originally proposed was an ordinance that would limit smoking to 20 feet from public outdoor gathering areas and swimming pool facilities.

Under the ordinance, there would be designated smoking areas for smoking and vaping at outdoor community events such as the barbecue festival and fireworks display.

However, after Deputy City Manager Kiel Mangus outlined the proposal, council member Vaughn Nun requested that staff present revised language that would provide for a complete ban in most parks, especially the small ones.

He also wanted a partial ban in parks with rental facilities, such as Madison Avenue Central Park and Warren Riverview Park.

Another member agreed.

“It would be a lot easier in the long run with a total ban,” John McIntosh said. “It makes it less confusing for people.”

If the city doesn’t do it now, it will do it eventually, he said.

Officials said additional policy thought should be given to High Park and Decarsky Park, which is not yet built.

Member Cheryl Bannon said she can see both sides of the subject.

She said care should be given to the rental facilities in order to not cut into revenue.

“There are a lot of people out there who smoke,” she said.

Also, she’s concerned that people may not want to go watch ballgames at Decarsky Park because they can’t smoke.

Different aspects to smoking rules

Mangus originally was conducting research on e-cigarettes.

However, he said that the staff realized many communities in Kansas have extended their smoke-free policies for both cigarettes and e-cigarettes to outdoor areas such as parks.

Adding to the issue is that the Derby Recreation Commission also indicated its desire to ban smoking in city parks and recreation areas.

The Parks and Urban Forestry Board recommended the city move forward with a partial ban of smoking in parks.

How a partial ban would work is a question.

Mangus said, “It would take some education.”

At big park events, such as the barbecue festival, he foresees a smoking area, similar to a beer garden, with a snow fence around it.

Smoking in the parks has several aspects to it.

Currently, smoking is strictly prohibited inside park facilities, according to information on the city’s website.

“Smoking is allowed on the patios only, where there is a butt can, and smokers must stay at least 20 feet from doors into the building,” the policy states.

On the other hand, smoking is now allowed in open areas of parks, unless signs are posted indicating otherwise.

Sexton said she believes that the only places those signs exist are the softball fields at High Park and Rock River Rapids.

The state gives cities a lot of leeway on what to do with smoking as it allows local governments to regulate it more stringently than the 

state if its governing body wants to.

Trend is to restrict smoking in public

If changes – in whatever form they take – are approved at a later date, they would be another step in restricting smoking in public areas.

In 2008, the city of Derby passed a Clean Indoor Air Ordinance, which generally prohibits smoking in public places and the workplace.

That was two years before the state passed a similar law.

In general, Derby is slightly more restrictive than current state law, including requiring more distance from a front entrance and not allowing smoking in any hotel guest rooms.

There’s also the element of electronic cigarettes.

Since the popularity of e-cigarettes has grown, the city has looked at adding them to its smoking ordinance, which would put the same restrictions on them as cigarettes.

There is no state law on e-cigarettes, but several Kansas cities have restricted them.

Derby now has four e-cigarette businesses and they would be exempt from a proposed ordinance; however, regular cigarettes couldn’t be smoked in them.

The tabled proposal will come back, but given other priorities, the earliest it would be on the council agenda would be Aug. 13, Sexton said, and possibly later than that.

If citizens have an opinion on the topic of smoking, be it e-cigarettes or smoking of either type in the parks, they are welcome to come to any council meeting.

They have up to five minutes, with a possible extension, to state their case during the public forum. They may also email their comments on smoking in the parks to info@derbyweb.com.

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