It started with no smoking at the ball fields and now city council members in DeRidder plan to take a step further-- On Monday at 5:30 p.m. they'll consider an ordinance to prohibit smoking in all city parks.
It's being spearheaded by a young member of the council-- Elizabeth Granger, herself the mother of four children. She says she wants to make the parks better for youngsters and healthy recreation.
West Park in DeRidder is a beautiful area to bring the kids to play, picnic or go for a walk. Right now you can smoke here and people do as you can see from the butts on the ground. Littering is already illegal soon smoking could be too here and at other city parks... Tony Thibodeaux smokes but it's fine with him if they outlaw it at city parks. "I'm in favor of it because a lot of kids come out here and they step on a hot cigarette butt. They get burnt and aren't going to have a good time out here at the park. Helps keep trash out of it too."
Granger is not against smokers-- but wants the parks to be healthy areas for young people to enjoy recreation. "I just want to protect others from the effects of second hand smoke, especially our children. It is indisputable that second hand smoke does harm others. And it's also been shown that outdoor second hand smoke can be as harmful as indoor smoking at times. It is a good role modeling for the community."
87 year old Charles Wooldridge walks here almost every day. He says there's another reason to ban smoking. "When this grass dries out it could start a fire and ruin a bunch of these beautiful trees that we have out here."
Mr. Wooldridge figures the smokers would be better off if instead of complaining about the ordinance, they'd just quit smoking. "I quit several years ago and since then my lungs have improved a great deal."
The ordinance comes up at 5:30 Monday afternoon before the DeRidder City Council. If approved they'll post no smoking signs and anyone who breaks the law could face fines starting at $25 dollars and up to $100 dollars for the third offense. And those who break the law could be banned from city parks for up to a year...
Now we've received some scathing comments in email and on Facebook from those who think prohibiting smoking at city parks in DeRidder would amount to way too much government interference in people's lives-- but so far no one has accepted our offer to appear on camera.
The ordinance would also prohibit smokeless tobacco--that's possession, chewing and spitting the stuff.