Clear Lake smoking

The Clear Lake City Council may soon consider an ordinance that would ban smoking in public parks and beaches.  

CLEAR LAKE | After a first reading last week, Clear Lake officials feel a smoking ordinance banning cigarettes, e-cigarettes and similar smoking devices will pass with public support.

What may change, however, is whether smokeless tobacco will remain a part of the ban, which would be enforced in city parks and beaches.

At-large council member Gary Hugi, who initially opposed including those products in the ordinance at last Monday's City Council meeting, told the Globe Gazette there are some problems with that part of the ordinance.

"To tell you the truth, it's really undetectable and unenforceable," Hugi said. "And the only person who it's harming is the person who has been using it."

Hugi added he supports the rest of the ordinance, given the health issues associated with secondhand smoke. Fellow council member Tony Nelson said many Clear Lake residents have supported the smoking ban, but added he has heard feedback similar to Hugi about issues with adding smokeless tobacco to the ordinance. 

Overall, however, support for banning smoking in public parks and beaches has been strong, according to Nelson.

"If you were to poll 20 people, I would guess 19 of them would be in support of it," said Nelson, who serves Clear Lake's second ward.

Next week, the city council will hold its second of three readings of the ordinance. Hugi said he's hopeful the smokeless tobacco part will be stricken before it becomes law.

"What's gonna be next, bubble gum?" he joked about that part of the ordinance.

About 12 miles west, another town is considering a similar ban to Clear Lake.

Garner City Administrator Randy Lansing said a cigarette, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette/vaporizer ban in public parks could be finalized after Tuesday's city council meeting.

That depends on if council members want to make the ban an administrative policy, or if they follow Clear Lake's lead and draft an ordinance—which would then require three readings, Lansing said.

He added it's unclear what route council members will take at Tuesday's meeting, but added Garner's Park and Recreation Board and others have noted the positives of such a ban. 

"I know our local health professional pointed out an article to me, that listed the number of local cities in Iowa [with the ban]," he said. "And there were like 498 cities or something like that."

Chance for public input is required before such a ban would be passed. Garner's city council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 135 W. 5th St.

Contact Steve at 641-421-0527 or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.

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