No compromise reached on DeRidder smoking ban

DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) - The DeRidder City Council failed to reach a compromise over a controversial measure which would ban smoking/tobacco use in all city parks. Now, the future of the proposed ordinance by Councilwoman Elizabeth Granger remains uncertain.

Last week, the council tabled the proposal after a public hearing sparked a spirited debate over the issue.

On Monday, the council took up the measure again, this time in a workshop, where officials hoped to find some common ground between both sides.

That didn't happen.

"Some of us came here with the impression that there was going to be a compromise on the smoking issue, but actually the smokers and non-smokers couldn't come to an agreement," said DeRidder City Councilman Robert Rice.

"The non-smokers do not want any compromise," said DeRidder City Councilman Joseph Siciliano. "They want a total ban on city parks of smoking and chewing tobacco."

Granger said she was willing to compromise on the proposal last week, by possibly agreeing to ban smoking within certain areas of the park, but since then she's had a change of heart.

"I was willing to compromise when I walked out of this room last week," said Granger. "But then I heard from so many people that were in favor of this ordinance that I decided to continue to fight for what I think is right, for our children, to protect their health, to protect the health of all people who want to use the park for fitness and recreation."

The ordinance calls for violators to be fined $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and $100 for the third offense. Repeat violators could also be banned from any city park for up to one year under the proposal.

Since the measure is still tabled, a motion to reconsider will have to be made by a council person at next week's meeting. That motion would have to have majority approval before the full council could vote on final passage.

At this time, it is not clear whether the proposed ordinance has enough votes for either reconsideration or final passage.

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