By Tiara Marocco
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Writer
BATH, Mich. – In Bath Township’s efforts to provide a cleaner environment for its citizens, the board passed the first reading of the proposed ordinance amendment to prohibit smoking in the parks.
On Monday, October 1, 2012, the board debated on the importance of banning smoking in the parks. The first reading passed with four votes in favor of the ordinance while three opposed.
“The No Smoking Ordinance will become effective November 21, 2012 and will be enforced by our police department on a complaint-basis only,” said Kathleen McQueen, Bath Township Clerk.
To support or not to support?
“It is well known that secondhand smoke is harmful to one’s health and one can be exposed to such harm even in outdoor areas,” said Leon Puttler, Bath Township Trustee. “Cigarette litter is blight, takes money to clean up and is also harmful to marine and animal life.”
Although it is a public area, the benefits of keeping the parks non-smoking seem significant to improving community life.
“I do believe that this will be a benefit to our community in terms of cleaner air in our parks, less litter and a small movement to lessen the possibility of children beginning to smoke as they grow older,” Puttler said.
“I support the ban of smoking in these parks because the park has a playground for children, where they can be exposed,” said Amanda Flegal, Bath resident.
While prohibiting smoking in the parks seems like a positive change, some members of the board were still hesitant towards this ordinance. Since this ordinance will be enforced through “complaint-basis only” there doesn’t seem much room for the improvement of this matter.
“I believe that our police department will be called on a complaint and once they are on site that the smoking will have been completed,” McQueen said.
“My three colleagues who voted no on the smoking ordinance suggested that we just place signs asking people not to smoke rather than adopting an ordinance,” Puttler said. “They also thought we might consider having an area in the park that was open for smoking, rather than banning it completely.”
A long-term issue?
Smoking in the parks has not been much of an issue in the past, but the board is making an effort to be more proactive in the health of their community.
“Smoking in the parks has not been a serious problem for Bath,” Puttler said. “However, we were approached by the mid-Michigan Health Department to consider banning smoking in parks in Bath, as they are trying to do in other communities throughout the state.”
A statewide movement
The state of Michigan has taken initiative to improve health care and lessen smoking in its state. The Michigan Policy Network posted about the “Dr. Ron Davis Smoke Free Air Law” in 2012.
“This law creates a smoking ban for all public places including, but not limited to, restaurants, businesses, hospitals, hotels and bars,” said Megan Mulder on the Michigan Policy Network website.
With this law being enforced a couple years ago, it has not been completely popular with the residents of Michigan. An owner of a bar in Belding, Mich., claims to have lost his business because of this smoking ban.
The bright side
This smoking ban has been enforced to make a positive change rather than upsetting the residents of Bath.
“I think it will benefit the non-smokers of the community who would like to enjoy the parks smoke-free,” Flegal said. “I am glad it passed, just like I enjoy being at restaurants and bars that are smoke-free now.”
Contact Tiara Marocco: (949) 812-0635 or firstname.lastname@example.org