Tobacco free Wichita group wants ordinance to ban tobacco in city parks

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – We have seen smoking bans take place in restaurants and workplaces, but what about our city parks? A local group is pushing for a city ordinance in Wichita that would prohibit all tobacco use in public green space.

Play Healthy ICT believes the ban would make Wichita more progressive and friendly to visitors. But some people who smoke tell KSN that it is not a good idea.

“With the kids playing around, it’s just not something I want my kids exposed to,” said Jackie Ebert, Augusta.

“It’s open air, I don’t think it’s injuring anybody, I don’t think it’s hurting anybody,” said Kira Miller, Wichita.

Neighbors have mixed feelings on the idea of tobacco free parks in Wichita. It is a policy Tara Nolen and others have been working on for months.

“[I am] Really hoping to be on the park board agenda in June to really discuss how we can move this forward,” said Tara Nolen, Tobacco Control Coordinator.

Nolen is with the Tobacco Free Wichita Coalition, a group that works to educate people on tobacco products. She says the ordinance would apply to cigarettes, e-cigs, cigars, and smokeless tobacco.

“When kids are here, they breathe in second hand smoke. And, if there’s tobacco litter on the ground, young people can pick that up,” said Nolen.

“If they see it the more they will use it. And [if] they grow up seeing this in the park, by the time that they’re teenagers, they’re going to want to do it,” said Elena Devora, Youth Coordinator.

Part of their initiative involves picking up tobacco litter and placing orange flags in its place. These are images from several Wichita parks. But Wichitan Kira Miller says a ban like this, is violating citizens rights, and isn’t necessary.

“Then it’s going to be, oh you can’t smoke in front of your house or you can’t smoke on the sidewalk or you can’t walk down the street and smoke,” said Miller.

The city has not taken a position on it officially as they are waiting for the park board to gather more information and make their decision. This issue could never make it to the council level.

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