Council tables smoking ban, again
Dec 6th, 2011
By Rick Longley, Orland Press-Register
Smokers complained about the impacts on their rights Monday as Orland struggles with adoption of a smoking ban in outdoor areas within the city.
Resident Brandy Branzelle said the city’s proposed attempt to regulate smoking and secondhand smoke is “redundant” since state law already requires most public buildings and entryways to be free from smoking.
“I find it insulting,” she said. “As a law-abiding citizen, and someone raised to be courteous, I try to be aware of others (while smoking). But to make it a punishable offense is insulting.”
Branzelle is upset with the proposed ban in public parks, which she visits regularly.
She said she does not smoke near crowds of people, but there should be designated smoking areas where she could smoke similar to those adopted at the Glenn County Fair.
Branzelle also complained if the city wanted to enact the ban because of “health and safety issues,” it should have sent the ordinance to Orland’s Public Safety Commission for review and recommendations before it went before the council.
The ban, if approved, would prohibit smoking at least 20 feet away from the doorways of businesses, around public recreational facilities, playgrounds and picnic areas and in outdoor cafes.
This is the fifth time the council has discussed the issue brought to it by a group of Orland High School students associated with Students Working Against Tobacco.
Students first brought to the council in October.
The council reviewed the proposed ban twice in November and made revisions in the fine schedule along with changes to other language.
It had planned to have a first reading of the ordinance Monday night, but opted to wait for the document to be revised again.
Branzelle complained as well the ordinance draft was not on the city’s website so people could read it prior to the meeting.
Thrift store owner Trish Saint-Evens expressed concern about language related to “aiding and abetting” violators if she did not say something to someone smoking outside her business.
“I understand where the kids are coming from, but we all have civil liberties,” said Saint-Evens, a non-smoker from a family of smokers.
George Toney said he first thought the ban was a good idea because it might help business owners who wanted to ban smoking around their places, and it would provide a law with more teeth.
However, he changed his mind after reading the ordinance language, he said.
Toney said the city should not be committed to putting up no smoking signs around all outlying areas of its parks with the word “shall” in the ordinance.
He also asked that the ban go to primary entryways or access points and that the definition of “person” be limited to individuals rather than businesses, corporations and other entities.
City Attorney Greg Einhorn told the council signage was always optional for business owners, and the city would only post signs “to the extent practical.”
As for the person reference, he said the law was intended to be fair in relation to ownership of a business or property affected by the ordinance.
Vice Mayor Charles Gee said the ban is an infringement on private property rights and could not be enforced in the public parks.
“It is well meaning, but overkill,” Gee said. “I don’t think I can support it.”
Councilman Jim Paschall concurred, saying trying to pass an ordinance the Police Department cannot enforce is not practical, and the law would infringe on smokers’ rights in public parks they are paying to use.
Councilman Bruce Roundy, who supports the ban, said it is the spirit of the law that is what they are after, and said the city attorney should look at it and make changes to reflect that.
Mayor Wade Elliott asked for primary entryways to be listed, for the term person to be narrowly defined and for the elimination of electric cigarettes and plant or weed references be removed since the law deals only with tobacco products.
“There are five non-smokers here who understand the science, but there are broader implications for the community,” Elliott told the students.
No specific meeting date was given for the next time the issue will be addressed.
Contact Rick Longley at 934-6800 or email@example.com.