East Ridge leaders may decide to join an exclusive group of cities that have banned all tobacco products on public property.
The head of the parks and recreation department likes the idea, while some citizens wonder if its too much government interference.
You don’t have to look very hard to see the evidence of smokers around government buildings and at Camp Jordan.
Cigarette butts litter the ground, even around parks like this one near East Ridge city hall where signs are already posted.
“STUMP” MARTIN, E.R. PARKS DIRECTOR “I got an email with a complaint about smoking around the dugouts in the park..at that point in time..I asked the council what we could do about that.”
Martin says the idea seems to have general support.
TIM GOBBLE, E.R. CITY MANAGER “We’re not necessarily trying to have a war with smokers..we’re trying to do the right thing as far as people’s enjoyment, public health and safety in the parks.”
Some of the tobacco users are firefighters and police officers. A complete ban of all forms of tobacco could become a major issue.
Frances Pope thinks so.
She’s retired and attends most council meetings. She’s also a smoker.
FRANCES POPE, EAST RIDGE RESIDENT ” We’re standing right here in front of city hall..here’s the ashtray…all they have to do is move it further away from the door…to a designated smoking area.”
Most public buildings and most parks around the country are already off-limits for smokers but East Ridge says parents are still worried about what happens outside.
“STUMP” MARTIN “To them, it’s a problem, when its a problem for them, it becomes a problem for me.”
TIM GOBBLE “We’re looking at it also as a possibility for employees helping them to quit smoking that we might save on our future insurance costs.”
Frances Pope says smokers should have some rights.
FRANCES POPE “They can’t go to Camp Jordan, sit down, have a picnic..and smoke a cigarette or put tobacco in your mouth..I just think its overboard.”
There two proposals on the table— a complete ban on all tobacco on city property, and one that allows smoking in designated areas.
That issue is expected to come up again at the first city council meeting in June.