Both initiatives were proposed by council member Cris Eaton-Welsh and will be taken up at Wednesday night’s work session. She said she hasn’t gotten a whole lot of support on either initiative from her fellow council members.
The proposed city-wide smoking ban will be discussed for the first time Wednesday, but Welsh said she has been preparing and researching for months with Lisa Crossman, with Cobb and Douglas Public Health, and Lindsi Pearson, with the American Cancer Association.
The proposal, which can be modified, would ban all smoking — cigars, cigarettes and e-cigarettes — across the city, including in all bars, parks, laundromats, playgrounds, athletic fields, bus shelters, almost all places of employment and restaurants.
“It’s not a new idea. It’s happening all over the country,” said Welsh.
The city of Norcross banned smoking in public places in May 2012, after similar bans went into effect in Clayton County, Alpharetta and Duluth.
If Kennesaw passes a city-wide smoking ban, it would be the first city in Cobb County to ban smoking not only at public parks and city-owned buildings and parking lots, but also at private work places.
“I’ve looked at our demographics and what we have going on, and with our fit-city initiative, and being such a great place to raise a family,” Welsh said, it seemed a smoking ban would further add to the quality of life.
Not all of the council agrees, however.
“I like the idea, but it really doesn’t affect me,” said council member Bruce Jenkins, who doesn’t smoke.
He likes the idea of banning smoking in city parking lots, but was unsure of how far of a government reach the ban would become.
“We are going to have to be very careful,” with the ban, Jenkins said, adding that there are already very few places in the city where smoking is allowed.
“I’m not a big government kind of guy,” said council member Tim Killingsworth.
He admitted that he enjoys having specific areas in the city where smoking isn’t allowed, but he is afraid the ban would represent the city reaching into residents’ personal lives.
When asked on a pre-election questionnaire if they could support a city-wide smoking ban, Matt Riedemann and Jeff Duckett both said no.
As Welsh said, “You are either completely for it and want people to stop putting smoke in your lungs, or you are completely against it and think it is the government telling you how to rule your life.”
Texting during council meetings a ‘no no?’
The council will also discuss adopting a resolution to prohibit all electronic communication between council members during City Council meetings and work sessions.
Council members are wary of adopting the resolution, many citing fears of not being able to react to family obligations that may arise during meetings.
“While you don’t want to keep putting mandates on the council, we need to be respectful of our voters and remove suspicion,” Jenkins said, as constituents don’t like to see their elected officials on their phones during meetings.
Welsh said she just wants to change the behavior of the council members. Again, she is looking to other cities for the model.
The City Council in Gresham, Ore., banned using electronic communications in 2010, and the council in Austin, Texas, banned the use of personal and city phones at council meetings in 2011, she said.
“In this day of open records and transparency, this is just another way to be transparent,” Jenkins said.
With the upcoming City Council elections looming, Welsh said she is worried how her fellow council members will vote on these controversial issues.
If you go:
What: Kennesaw City Council work session
When: Wednesday, October 16 at 6 p.m.
Where: At City Hall in downtown Kennesaw