A Tobacco Free Policy for Sunnyside Park in Atlantic failed to advance past the first reading Wednesday night, during a meeting of the Atlantic City Council. Council members Jimerson, Somers, Hayes, Hartkopf, Halder and Cord voted against it. Councilperson Lori Stuart was the only yes vote. The action came after nearly 45-minutes of discussion during a public forum, which included comments and a Power Point Presentation on a report from the Cass County Public Health Task Force which included Cass County Public Health Community Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Karla Akers, Teddi Grindberg, with Healthy Cass County, and Atlantic Parks and Rec Board Member Jolene Smith.
As part of the presentation, the Task Force brought up the Smoke Free Air Act, which regulates smoking in public places. Grindberg quoted a section of the SFAA (IA Code 142.D) which spells out areas where smoking is prohibited outdoors. It includes bleachers or seating areas in outdoor sports arenas and other entertainment venues where the general public is gathered. Public transit stations, platforms and shelters are also prohibited under the Act.
Former Atlantic City Councilman Steve Livengood, a non-smoker, was opposed to the proposed ordinance. He offered a rebuttal to Grindberg’s comments with regard to the Iowa Smoke Free Air Act, several parts of which he said were taken out of context. He said a “Public Place” uses the term “enclosed space,” which by definition, would not include a park shelter, since it has to have “A roof, a ceiling and 4 walls”. He says the shelter Grindberg spoke of pertained to public transportation, not park shelter.
Akers said the bottom line is that the ordinance “Isn’t about the Smoke Free Air Act.” She says that they brought that to the Park Board, to show the basic requirements and that they weren’t complying with the Act. She said they want the City needs to set a good example for children and that the City cares about the health of those youth. Prior to their vote on the first reading, the Council was in agreement it is not the City’s responsibility to send a message to kids not to smoke or use tobacco. Councilperson Kathy Somers said that’s something that needs to comes from families. She said also “It would be a shame to limit the privileges of our citizens, just to be an example to the children who already hear it plenty of ways.”