Tobacco-Free group prefers ordinance comes from Council
Posted 6/15/11 (Wed)
Members of the Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition met with Terese Skjordal, Troy Hedberg and Todd Ankenbauer of the Kenmare City Council Health Committee Monday night to discuss a proposed smoke-free air ordinance for Kenmare.
According to Holly Brekhus, Community Outreach Coordinator for First District Health Unit Tobacco Prevention, the Health Committee indicated the issue should be put to a vote of Kenmare’s citizens, rather than having the City Council adopt the ordinance.
Coalition members were disappointed in the Health Committee’s response and would prefer to see the City Council take responsibility for protecting the health and well-being of the community’s residents. Brekhus noted that in Pembina, one of two communities similar in size to Kenmare that have already adopted smoke-free workplace and public place ordinances, the city council passed the ordinance after two readings, with very little complaint from citizens.
“The city council meetings are open to the public,” said Melissa Burud, FDHU public health nurse in Kenmare. “Discussing the ordinance there would provide the opportunity for citizens to speak to their council members and express their opinions about it.”
Coalition members noted the additional expense to the city of Kenmare if enough signatures were collected for an initiated measure petition, resulting in a special election to be held for the ordinance. The Health Committee suggested a vote on the ordinance could be delayed until the regular city election scheduled for June 2012.
The Coalition moved forward with plans to obtain further support for the proposed smoke-free air ordinance. Within the next two weeks, Coalition members will be asking community organizations to provide resolutions of support for the city council to take action on a smoke-free air ordinance in Kenmare.
Individuals can indicate their support for such an ordinance by signing a statement that will be available at community events, beginning with the Kenmare Rib Rally and Classy Car Show on June 18th at the downtown square. This document does not serve as an official petition, but does provide a way for the City Council members to see how their constituents view a smoke-free ordinance for the community.
Kenmare Association of Commerce members will also be contacted with a survey targeted to their interests and concerns regarding a smoke-free air ordinance. “We see this as a health issue, but they see this as a business issue,” said Brekhus.
A survey about tobacco use and secondhand smoke conducted by FDHU in April for Kenmare-area residents showed that 81.4 percent of the respondents supported a law in Kenmare to ban smoking in all indoor public places.
The next meeting of the Tobacco-Free Coalition will be Tuesday, June 28th, at 12 noon at the Kenmare Branch Library. All interested persons are welcome to attend.
Anyone with further questions is welcome to call Barb Scherbenske at 701-385-4412 or Pauline Nielsen at 701-385-4907.