Smoking ban fails

— Young people in Oak Creek who want to smoke cigarettes in public will not be stopped at least not by the town.

The Oak Creek Board of Trustees voted down an ordinance that would have made it illegal for minors to smoke in public places.

Mayor Deb Van Gundy asked the board Nov. 9 for a motion to table the issue until the next meeting because trustees Bill Paxton and Clyde Moore weren't at the meeting. She said she felt confident that the two were in favor of the ordinance.

Instead, Trustee Mike Kien made a motion to pass the ordinance and Van Gundy gave the second.

Then Kien, Charlie Bevan and Carol Montoya voted against the ordinance, leaving Van Gundy and Sonja Norris as the minority supporters on the board that night.

"I don't feel that an ordinance will stop kids from smoking," Montoya said.

She also didn't like the wording of the ordinance, which included banning possession of tobacco by minors, which is stricter than the federal laws regarding smoking.

Bevan agreed. He said minors will smoke unless they really want to quit. Therefore, the ordinance would not be effective.

At previous meetings, the issue of enforcement and the potential problems of enforcement had been discussed by trustees.

Kien, who said in past meetings he would support some kind of town effort to address the issue, didn't like how the ordinance could be enforced on private property. He also wasn't sure if it was right to have the town police children.

"I'm not sure if I want the government to legislate morality," Kien said.

On the other hand, Norris said there is a problem with minors smoking that the town needs to addressed.

"I'm for the ordinance," she said. "You have to set parameters so kids have limitations to what they can and can't do. If it's not happening in the home, then someone else has to do it."

Van Gundy said she was disappointed that children, parents and a representative from Grand Futures weren't in attendance at the Nov. 9 meeting.

Angela Kimmes of Grand Futures, a substance abuse prevention agency, said a representative from the group wasn't able to make the meeting.

"It was unfortunate that we couldn't be there," she said.

However, she said she sent the board some information on different programs Grand Futures offers to try to stop minors from smoking.

One in particular is a program piloted in Hayden in which minors meet at school to talk about why they smoke. It is advised by an adult, but the program is more focused on the children talking to each other, Kimmes said.

"If it's successful (in Hayden) then we'll make in available in south Routt," she said.

Kimmes also asked Dr. Daniel Smilkstein of Steamboat Springs to talk to the board about smoking but he was unable to make the meeting. Instead, he wrote a letter explaining the dangers of teen smoking and cited examples were ordinances had appeared to improve the situation. Smilkstein has done significant research into teen smoking.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206

or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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