City Council members agree they would like to prevent tobacco use around municipal playgrounds and picnic areas, but clash on how it should be done.
At a committee-of-the-whole meeting Monday, the council decided a policy banning tobacco use in parks would be unenforceable and unpopular.
I see it as a start to things I absolutely dont like people telling me how to live my life, said Councilman R. Storm Cilley. We cant totally ban a legal activity, and I am not in favor of passing laws and policies that would put penalties in place.
Instead, a consensus of the council decided to erect signs asking people not to smoke in park areas children use.
I think that is what people are asking for a voluntary cessation, said City Manager Philip A. Cosmo. That policy can be We currently ask, we hope people will voluntarily comply.
Benjamin R. Todd, program coordinator of the St. Lawrence County Tobacco Free Community Partnership, will help the city draft the signs.
It is about respect for others and respect for the environment, he said. It is about creating that health awareness.
There would be no new law for city police to enforce, and no penalty for people who ignore the signs.
It needs to sound as if it is a policy and not just a courtesy, said Councilwoman Jennifer Stevenson. I think if we have a policy and the signage, people are going to comply.
On the other hand, Ms. Stevenson said, she wanted to respect the rights of her tobacco-using constituents.
I am very much a nonsmoker, but I do represent everyone, she said. Where are we going to push the smokers to? People are smoking on the other side of the street, which just pushes the issue to the neighbors. It is a tough issue and you have to balance everything perfectly. In a perfect world, people are still going to smoke; those people are going to enjoy the outdoors.
The citys tobacco use policy should be fair and applied equally, said Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley.
We cant tell someone sitting at a picnic table not to smoke and then let the boaters in the marina smoke, he said.
Councilman Daniel E. Skamperle was the first to bring up the idea, calling for a policy to prevent smoking in those areas.
This is solely about protecting kids, he said.