Push begins to end smoking at Emporia playgrounds, parks, sports facilities

An education effort is underway that could lead to an ordinance ending smoking at Emporia playgrounds, parks and outdoor sporting facilities.
On KVOE's Newsmaker II segment this week, it was stated ordinances in other Kansas towns address the issue, and early research through a Pennsylvania group Young Lungs at Play indicates smoking outdoors can be harmful to children. The goal, according to spokesperson Daphne Mertens, is to reduce the potential harmful impact of smoking while recognizing there are still a fair amount of people locally who smoke.
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Fellow spokesperson Teresa Briggs led the city's push to eliminate smoking in restaurants eight years ago. She anticipates an ordinance banning smoking at playgrounds may find widespread support, but that may not be the case if different sporting events are considered.
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The group approached Emporia city commissioners last year and was told to get community input. A survey involving nearly 150 people locally last fall showed over 130 supported an ordinance ending all tobacco products at parks and playgrounds. Ten did not support any such ordinance, while one persongave conditional support to banning tobacco at playgrounds but not in parks as a whole.
The education effort is underway now but will get really kick off next month. Kick Butts Day is March 15, and plans are developing to have some speakers and other activities as part of the event.
For more information, call Mertens at 620-437-6096. Click here for more information about Young Lungs at Play.