Iowa City parks will no longer tolerate the use of tobacco

The city of Iowa City looks to soon eliminate tobacco from city parks.

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Iowa City parks will no longer tolerate the use of tobacco

Iowa City City Hall is seen on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Iowa City City Hall is seen on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Joseph Cress

Iowa City City Hall is seen on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Joseph Cress

Joseph Cress

Iowa City City Hall is seen on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

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By Madison Purvis
[email protected]

The Iowa City City Council voted 6-1 to pass an amendment to ban tobacco use from all parks in the city on Tuesday night.

Clay Claussen, a chairman of Iowa City’s Parks and Recreation Commission, spoke in favor of the ban on behalf of the commission. 

Claussen pointed out the errors in enforcing designated smoking spots rather than a  ban.

“Many remember where there were smoking and non-smoking areas in commercial flights,” he said. And you remember how well that worked.”

Claussen said that designated smoking areas on planes didn’t work. He is advocating for a ban of tobacco in parks.

He said he and the commission are not trying to infringe on anyone’s rights by advocating for this ban, but instead they see tobacco use as a public-health issue. 

Mayor Jim Throgmorton responded to this by saying he does not see smoking in parks as a health issue and therefore does not support the ban.

Throgmorton reiterated his point by adding that the list of parks that already ban tobacco usage is an “extensive list.”

He refuted Claussen’s airplane analogy by saying “in an airplane, the smoke is contained; in a place like Hickory Hill Park, it is not.”

City Councilor Susan Mims agreed with Claussen.

Mims shared a story of being at Cyclocross on Sunday. She said was trying to watch the event but had to move because she ended up next to a smoker and couldn’t handle the smoke and the smell.

She said she believes “it infringes on other people’s health and rights to be able to use those spaces.”

Councilor Pauline Taylor, shared a similar story involving her grandson and his reaction to someone smoking a cigarette in a park.

“You never know if you are in a park when you will come across children or someone with asthma or those kinds of conditions that it could affect,” she said.

Iowa City resident Dave Koch said in an email to the council that he encouraged it to pass this ban.

“This is not about taking their rights away,” he said in the email. “It’s about creating an environment where health and safety of citizens and animals is the priority. It’s about creating a positive role model for children, and it’s about improving the long-term health impact for people who use our parks and trails.”

Councilor Kingsley Botchway also supports the ban. He stated it “simply didn’t make sense to [him]” to see someone light up in a park. He said even though he does see the issue with individual rights, he also believes that it is a health concern to the public. 

In addition, Botchway sees the ban of tobacco products in parks as a way of promoting the lifestyle the city supports. For him this is a large reason he supports the ban.

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