The East Ridge tobacco restriction proposal does three important things:
1) Allows the majority of people who don't smoke not to be forced to breathe the contaminated air of those who do in public spaces such as city parks and playgrounds.
2) Will help reduce the significant amounts of cigarette butt litter and tobacco spit in our parks and on public property, which looks awful and is unhealthy and unsanitary to others.
3) The tobacco use restrictions on city employees will help reduce employee health insurance claims and in turn help bring down health insurance premium costs for the city, saving taxpayer money, which most citizens seem to want cities to do.
It does not attempt to restrict tobacco use in homes, on private property, or on city streets/sidewalks while walking or driving in your car.
I believe the council is on the right track with this reasonable and thought-out ordinance because of the reasons indicated. The ordinance is in line with what many other progressive cities across the country are doing in this area of public health/safety, environmental protection and with attempts to reduce the high cost of health care for everyone.
East Ridge City Manager
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As an East Ridge citizen, and yes a smoker, I question the true motives behind this ordinance. This is about government crossing the line and trying to make others live by their standards. If I were not a smoker, I would still object to this ordinance. This is not an ordinance about second-hand smoke because this bans all tobacco products on all city property. There are city policies on the books that ban smoking in city buildings and city vehicles. However, citizens routinely see some city employees smoking in city vehicles. Don’t make another law, enforce this policy. City buildings are smoke free in accordance with the Non-Smokers Protection Act . This act allows smoking areas away from building entrances so the second-hand smoke does not infiltrate the building via an open door or air system. Comments have been made about walking through a “cloud of smoke” (sometimes from employees taking frequent smoke breaks) at the building entrance. Solution, move the ashtrays away from the doors and deal with employees if they are abusing breaks.
To address Mr. Gobble’s points:
1) The Non-Smokers Protection Act also bans smoking in areas where people congregate. Do we not already restrict smoking on the playground and inside gates at the ball fields at Camp Jordan? This proposed tobacco restriction also includes smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco does not polute the air.
2) Cigarette butts are not the only litter that is found on public property. We have a litter ordinance. Is it enforced?
3) “Restrictions on city employees” - you do not have to pass a law affecting all citizens to hold employees to city policy when they are at work. Supervisors, department directors and city managers simply have to do their jobs to require city employees to adhere to city policies. Those same taxpayers that you are concerned saving money for are the ones that you want to take personal rights from.
Law enforcement and firefighting are properly the most stressful jobs in any government. I think it is a shame if when these employees return to the station after a call they would not be able to step out of their vehicles and use tobacco if they wanted to.
Let’s say a soldier comes home from Afghanistan and is sitting by the pond in Camp Jordan fishing with his children. Do you really want our police officers to have to tell him to remove a chew of tobacco from his mouth or leave Camp Jordan? Our armed forces fight for our freedoms, to give you the power to legislate and you use that power for something like this. Think about what you are doing when you are restricting citizens' rights.
I don’t believe city manager, city attorney and council members are tobacco users. So to them, of course, this is a good ordinance. How will they feel when they are no longer in power and future leaders vote in a law that restricts something they approve of?
Non-smokers’ rights can be protected without this extremely arrogant law restricting citizens’ rights. East Ridge public property belongs to all citizens - tobacco users and non-tobacco users alike.
If you insist on using governmental powers to set standards for individual behavior, you might consider what else to ban in the name of "the public good".
Maybe you should have citizens that use East Ridge recreational areas be required to wear sunscreen with an adequate SPF? Melanoma is a very serious form of skin cancer that is directly related to sun exposure.
You might want to look at the studies related to health risks with using cell phones.
What about the effect that some strong colognes have on some people?
Check into the health issues that are caused by women wearing extremely high heels.
Of course, we all know how out of control the obesity problem is in America. I am sure you can pass a law to control that. Take a look at New York.
These are no more absurd that the proposed tobacco ban.
A personal message to East Ridge Council and staff: You are not my Mother, my Daddy, my God or even my doctor. Your position should not afford you the privilege of making others live by your personal preferences. Be careful setting a precedent on passing laws because someday others will be in your positions exercising the powers that you have now.
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39-17-1551. Purpose of part -- Exemptions -- Authority to prohibit smoking.
(a) The general assembly intends by this part and other provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated to occupy and preempt the entire field of legislation concerning the regulation of tobacco products. Any law or regulation of tobacco products enacted or promulgated after March 15, 1994, by any agency or political subdivision of the state or any agency thereof is void; provided, that cities, counties and counties having a metropolitan form of government may regulate the use of tobacco products in buildings owned or leased by the political subdivisions; and provided further, that airport authorities created pursuant to the provisions of title 42; utility districts created pursuant to the provisions of title 7; and special school districts may regulate the use of tobacco products in buildings owned or leased by the entities. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, individual owners or operators of retail establishments
located within an enclosed shopping mall shall retain the right to determine the policy on the use of tobacco products within the person's establishment.
(b) (1) Notwithstanding subsection (a) or any other provision of this title, a municipality, a county or a county having a metropolitan form of government is authorized by local ordinance or resolution to prohibit smoking on the grounds of a hospital or in the public areas immediately outside of a hospital building and its entrances, including public sidewalks.
(2) Any regulation or ordinance that is passed or adopted by a local government pursuant to the authority granted by this subsection (b) may prohibit smoking by a distance of up to fifty feet (50') from a hospital's entrance unless the application of a fifty-foot limit would place hospital patients in a potentially unsafe condition. In which case the fifty-foot limit shall be extended to such distance as is necessary to ensure patient safety as determined by the local government's legislative body in consultation with representatives of any hospitals that are subject to the regulation or ordinance.
Weighed my options, and I think this is probably the best way to help the citizens, and people in general, of East Ridge. The above is of particular interest to the citizens of East Ridge.
My opinion may, or may not, hold weight; however, I urge all citizens and interested parties to: investigate the supposed ordinance, acknowledge the deficiencies, and become more interested in the day-to-day business of the city. After all, East Ridge takes in revenues, large portions through taxes, and provides services. All people who have services received rendered in their interest take steps to ensure quality of service, East Ridge government should be no different.
I think it is in the best interest of concerned parties to acknowledge there are serious issues of preemption and conflict with the supposed ordinance. Furthermore, I think it is also important to acknowledge that legal issues before the city are not appropriated within the budget as their overall impact cannot be determined (Example: million dollar suits). To be frank, the initial ordinance (at first reading) is largely insufficient to the needs of East Ridge.
While the surface intention of the ordinance is valid, I urge all parties to consider preexisting statutes and ordinances that can remedy the problems that are in question. I would also have good faith that the elected officials of East Ridge are willing to petition their state government for assistance. Furthermore, I think it is important that we acknowledge direction of policy and not the "direction" of "council." After all, the policies of East Ridge are what is of importance, and I find no reasonable exceptions of policy decisions or directions to become personal. That being said -
Time, Place, and Manner East Ridge,
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Mr. Gobble with all due respect to your three important things of this tobacco ban, let me point out a few things. First thing is there is more dirty air going up and down I-75 than will ever come from smoking on the cites properties. I am a smoker and I respect everyone around me by not smoking close to them, its called respect for others and common sense both of which are lacking in this administration.
Second point is If you want the butts off the ground then put out containers to dispose them in, also it is a law already that you cant litter so just simply enforce the laws all ready in place. You can have more designated smoking sections that will be used, but I see that if you attempt to stop all tobacco use then you will lose this fight.
Third, and most important point, is the cost of health insurance for tobacco users. If a city employee uses tobacco products then they should pay for the difference in their heath insurance, I have to pay for mine with no help from anyone. When one quits or tries to stop tobacco, most users replace that urge with food and this will cause weight gain, are you going to crackdown on being overweight because the cost of healthcare will increase with being overweight as well. I see this as a no win solution.
Now my take on this ordnance as a whole is this, the city of East Ridge has much larger issues to be dealing with besides making a law that is so minor and will not save the taxpayers much if any money. If you want to save money then focus on replacing the part-time Attorney John Anderson as most everyone is fed up with having him in our city. There are empty buildings all over this city and it is looking more and more like a ghost town, which also increases crime that we do not want.
Do your job by saving this city like you are paid to do and focus on what "we" say, "we" meaning the taxpayers that pay your salary not the select few on council. This being an election year we will have some serious changes coming to this city because this current administration has lost all respect and trust by its citizens.
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Does this mean East Ridge is going to stop the sale of tobacco products? Are they going to risk angering merchants, while they ban people from smoking?
When they do this, I will consider the steps to ban smoking a serious concern for the leaders in East Ridge.
I am betting they will not give up the revenues by banning the sale of the products claimed to be so dangerous to the public.
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If our leaders in East Ridge would simply take time from their busy schedule and drive down Ringgold Road they will find plenty of things to put on their agenda.
I grew up in this town and the politics in East Ridge have always been on the "good ole boy system". If you want to pass laws that will make a real difference try banning porn shops within a half block of a church, tattoo shops, check cashing lending predators on every corner, resale shops on every block and now firecracker stores. Ringgold Road is beginning to look like Rossville Boulevard. And, instead of our politicians trying to attract major restaurants chains at the 75 East Ridge exit and hotels which attract more than drug dealers and their patrons, they are concerned about cigarette smoke?
East Ridge needs to focus on honest politics, and taking major steps in cleaning up the area around the 75 East Ridge exit and Ringgold Road so that travelers have a reason to spend money in our town, and most importantly, residents have a reason to stay.