by Alan McArthur
A possible smoking ban in Parkville was discussed on Tuesday night during a public hearing at the city's board of aldermen meeting.
The hearing brought a number of people to the meeting to discuss the idea. The proposed ban would make it illegal to smoke in workplaces and would also ban smoking in restaurants and bars.
The PTA at English Landing Elementary previously passed a resolution in favor of the smoking ban. Kelly Seymour, PTA co-president, told the board she was speaking on behalf of “those too young to speak for themselves.”
“This is about the rights of non-smokers,” said Seymour. “This policy is in the best interest of the health and welfare of the children of Parkville. I trust you to make the right choice.”
Other residents also expressed their support for the smoking ban.
“I go out of my way to go into Kansas City,” said Mylinda Scott, regarding Kansas City's smoking ban. “It is the best for our health.”
Some representatives of the American Legion Post in Parkville are against the ban because they say it would hurt their business.
“We feel it would have an adverse affect on the Legion,” said Terry Brown, building manager. “Many of our patrons are smokers. I don't think it would help anyone's health. People who smoke will continue to smoke. There are plenty of options in Parkville right now not allowing smoking; there are only four remaining that allow smoking.”
The Legion had previously submitted a petition to the city with 238 signatures against the ordinance. The number represents approximately 18.5 percent of Parkville residents.
“We would rather remain public, rather than be closed,” said Jo King, commander of the Legion. “Today we are seeking to stay alive and grow, we ask to be exempted.”
Previously, some board members have expressed interest in exempting the Legion from the ban, or allowing them to be designated as a private club in order to allow smoking.
Park University expressed its support for the smoking ban ordinance during the public hearing.
“We are in support of the smoke-free ordinance,” said Rita Weighill, vice president of communication at Park University. “This is an ideal ordinance for the city of Parkville and Park University. We request no exemptions and no exceptions be made.”
Lindsay Kimball with Clean Air Kansas City spoke to the board.
“Many other communities have already looked at this issue,” said Kimball. “You are the 18th city in the metro to look at the issue. Smoke-free ordinances are good for public health; they have a positive community benefit.”
Another resident to speak against the ordinance was Bill Grigsby, noted Parkville resident and longtime announcer for the Chiefs Radio Network.
“We are worried about too many things we have no control over in our lives,” said Grigsby. “There is no tougher job than owning a restaurant and right now they have a heck of a time with the economy. Let people decide where they want to go, this is a free country.”
Grigsby spoke before the board again later in the meeting.
“I happen to know the economy is hurting in a lot of areas. We need to find ways to help instead of hurting. Obesity kills more people than smoking.”
Several members of the crowd then mumbled “no, it doesn't” after Grigsby mentioned his claim about obesity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death in 2005 was heart disease with 652,091 deaths. Cancer killed 559,312 people, strokes killed 143,579, chronic lower respiratory diseases killed 130,933, and diabetes killed 75,119 people.
A restaurant owner spoke against the smoking ban during the meeting.
“Our business has increased 10-15 percent since Kansas City's ban,” said Joe Jennings, owner of Rancho Grande. “Seventy-five percent of my employees smoke. If you really want to help, why not ban the selling of those evil little things.”
Later Gerry Richardson, mayor, spoke to the board and crowd.
“The ban on smoking in the workplace has support; I think the difference of opinion settles on the restaurants and bars. There is still some controversy about the American Legion.”
“Please tell your neighbors to contact your aldermen to share your opinions,” said Deborah Butcher, alderman.
The board did not make a decision on the smoking ordinance at the Tuesday meeting. The earliest the board may vote on the ordinance is Tuesday, Dec. 2.
In other business, the city will hold an open house on Monday, Nov. 24 for discussion about a proposed quiet zone in downtown Parkville to keep trains from blowing their horns. The open house will be held in the Train Depot in downtown Parkville from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The quiet zone would affect the railroad crossing at East Street and Main Street in downtown Parkville.