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Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition considers policy for city's parks and playgrounds

The Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition turned its attention toward the city’s parks and playgrounds during its September meeting.

10/03/12 (Wed)

By Caroline Downs

The Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition turned its attention toward the city’s parks and playgrounds during its September meeting.

Coalition members have reviewed tobacco-free policies established for parks and playgrounds in other cities across North Dakota.

Holly Brekhus, First District Health Unit Tobacco Prevention Unit community outreach coordinator, said she had discussed the matter of tobacco-free parks and playgrounds with Kenmare city auditor Barb Wiedmer. “To her knowledge, the city of Kenmare has no policy in place,” Brekhus said, “and the Kenmare city council was not aware of any policy.”

A policy under consideration by the Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition would prohibit the use of tobacco products at city-owned or operated outdoor recreational facilities, including parks, athletic fields, walking paths and playgrounds and any restrooms, spectator and concession areas associated with those facilities.

Members of the Kenmare Coalition expressed their concerns for public health and well-being in these locations, especially children who would be exposed to cigarettes and secondhand smoke while participating in recreational activities. The group identified Kenmare’s downtown square, the Jaycee and Centennial Parks, the swimming pool, the ball diamonds adjacent to the high school property and the American Legion baseball field as sites that could be potentially affected by the policy.

“Barb [Wiedmer] did say the pool has an unwritten policy to be tobacco-free,” Brekhus said.

The group favored working with the city’s Park and Recreation board members to define and establish a tobacco-free parks and playgrounds policy for Kenmare that would best suit the needs of the community. Coalition members will begin by meeting with the Recreation Board to discuss the idea.

Initiated Measure No. 4
approved for the ballot
Brekhus announced the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office had approved the ballot petition submitted for Initiated Statutory Measure No. 4 regarding smoke-free workplaces.

Voters will see the following measure on their ballots in November:

“This initiated statutory measure would amend chapter 23-12 of the North Dakota Century Code. This measure would prohibit smoking, including the use of electronic smoking devices, in public places and most places of employment in the state, including certain outdoor areas. It would provide notification and enforcement responsibilities, along with penalties for violations.”

A “yes” vote approves the measure, while a “no” vote rejects the measure.

According to the Smoke-Free North Dakota organization, smoking would be prohibited in all enclosed public places and workplaces including restaurants, bars, truck stops, hotels and motels, retail tobacco stores and workplaces available to be leased for private functions.

Smoking would also be prohibited within 20 feet of the entrances, exits, operable windows, air intakes and ventilation systems of establishments covered by the law so that smoke cannot infiltrate to other areas where smoking is not allowed.

Smoke-Free North Dakota emphasizes that Measure No. 4 would not restrict smoking in private residences, in privately owned and individually operated businesses with no employees and where the public is not required to enter, at outdoor places not otherwise covered under the law or the 20-foot distance clause, and on Native American land or in Native American ceremonies.

If voters across the state approve Measure No. 4 at the November 6th election, the law would take effect 30 days after those election results are certified, which could be by mid-December 2012.

North Dakota’s current smoke-free law, which took effect August 1, 2005, prohibits smoking in most public places and places of employment, with the exception of bars, separate bar areas in restaurants and hotels, motels, truck stops and retail tobacco stores.

Next meeting is
October 9th
The next meeting of the Kenmare Tobacco-Free Coalition will be held Tuesday, October 9th, at Beer Bob’s meeting room, beginning at 12 noon. Everyone is welcome to attend. Members of the Coalition planned to invite District 4 House candidate Glen Froseth to the meeting.

Information about the Kenmare Tobacco Free Coalition is posted online at Persons who are interested in the Coalition’s activities are welcome to contact Pauline Nielsen at 701-385-4907 or Barb Scherbenske at 701-385-4412.