DeRidder Council reaches anti-smoking compromise

They've been going 'round and 'round over it for the last few weeks, but it appears they finally reached a compromise concerning a proposed smoking ban in city parks in DeRidder.

DeRidder City Council has approved an ordinance that prohibits tobacco use in city parks there. But there is an exception that seems to satisfy well as the city council member who proposed the ban.

City Council Member Elizabeth Granger is herself a young mother. She proposed the ban on smoking in city parks--- in order to help reduce tobacco exposure to children. "You just can't argue anymore with the statistics and second hand smoke." But she ran into opposition from smokers and even non smokers who felt local government was going too far telling people what they can and cannot do. Then they reached a sort of compromise.

Tobacco users can puff and chew as long as they do it in the parking lot and not the park. Said Granger, "It accomplished exactly my original goal which was to protect our children, in the playground area from the effects of second hand smoke."

DeRidder Police Chief John Gott says they are ready and willing to enforce the ordinance once it takes effect. He says it won't cost any additional man hours because they are likely to catch violators on routine patrols of parks. "It will not be costly or any kind of a drain on the police department. We have other laws and ordinances in effect here at the parks such as drinking of alcoholic beverages in the park and things of that sort. And it's going to follow the same lines as that."

And there are other laws protecting children from smoke people may not know about-- such as a state law that prohibits smoking in a vehicle if there are children there. "It is a state law that prohibits people from smoking inside of a vehicle in the presence of a child and that's whether the windows are rolled up or rolled down, it doesn't matter."

The police chief and Granger agree keeping tobacco out of city parks helps set a good example. It's been shown that youth in areas where there are bans on tobacco are less likely to use tobacco. So if this can, in some small way, help prevent tobacco use among children, then wonderful.

The tobacco ban takes effect ten days after it's advertised in the newspaper there on Sunday, so it should start around September 7th.

Fines are $25, $50 or $100 for first second and third offense. Once convicted of the second offense a person is banned from city parks for a year.

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