Ast urges council to reconsider tobacco policy

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Nevada City Council met in regular session on Tuesday, at 7 p.m., at the City Council Chambers.

Mayor Pro Tem Ryan Watts called the meeting to order and invited Gary Almquist to lead the invocation.

Carol Branham took part in the public participation portion congratulating Mayor Brian Leonard and Nevada Police Officer Marcus Champion on their recent awards. She then went on to tout two upcoming events being hosted by the Nevada Housing Authority.

Next, Show Me Tobacco Free Vernon County represented by Kelly Ast, took the floor.

“We are here tonight to ask for the city council to reconsider a tobacco policy that would just include clean indoor air,” said Ast. A smoking ban was voted down by the council in December.

Ast presented the results of a survey taken from more than 600 Vernon County residents, 88 percent said they’d like to see restaurants and bars smoke-free indoors and 66 percent said they would not go to a facility that allowed indoor smoking.

“What we’re trying to represent here is that the majority of the people want indoor — that’s all that we’re asking for, is the city council to reconsider clean indoor air,” said Ast.

She went on to say there is a culture which seems to endorse tobacco which her group wants to change and improve for the youth.

“For us, we believe this culture supports tobacco [and] that we need first to make a change with our environment and that starts with policy,” she said.

The group has reached out to Missouri communities which have passed tobacco-free clean indoor air policies in the last four years including St. Joseph, Belton, Sedalia, Clinton and Branson. She reports none of the communities have had any issues with enforcement issues.

“It’s more than just protecting non-smokers from second-hand smoke, there are studies out there that show communities that have a tobacco policy have a reduced initiation rate in our youth,” said Vernon County Health Department Assistant Director, Tori Schulze.

Schulze related she has received many comments wondering how our county passed the PDMP so quickly yet still do not have a tobacco policy.

Council person Jane Novak asked to see a copy of the proposed ordinance that failed and City Manager J.D. Kehrman said he would provide council members with all the materials provided by Ast.

Ast urged the council to think about the image the community projects.

“We have people coming to our community that are on an interstate that walk in and they’re surprised when smoking is offered,” she said. “If we try to get more businesses, if we try to get people to start factories here to bring more jobs, are we going to show we have progressive policies?” she asked.

Ast ended by pointing out the Elks Lodge has gone tobacco-free and there has been a good response.

In other business, the council:

• Voted 4-0 to pass on second reading Bill No. 2017-029, approving the application for Federal financial assistance to partially fund the city’s public transportation program.

• Voted 4-0 to pass on second reading Bill No. 2017-030 approving a contract between the Nevada Housing Authority and the City of Nevada for additional policing services.

• Voted 4-0 to pass on second reading Bill No. 2017-031 accepting the bid and authorizing the execution of an agreement with Ozark Applicators, LLC, of Van Buren, Mo., for painting and general repair of the north water tower on East Highland Avenue.

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