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Kuhn pitches smoking ban

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MASON CITY | A proposed ordinance which would ban smoking within 25 feet of play areas in city parks got a chilly reception from the Mason City Parks and Recreation Board Tuesday night.

Councilman Alex Kuhn presented the proposal to the board saying that families are turned off by smoking near children's play areas in city parks including East Park and Parker's Woods.

"This kind of started for me Band Festival weekend," Kuhn said, telling the board about taking his two young sons and a friend to the park and being concerned about people smoking near the play areas.

"It's pretty common sense. It's not too complicated here," he said.

But Park Board members Frank Pearson, Don Nelson and Kyle Easley expressed concerns about violating citizen's rights and how such an ordinance would be enforced.

"The worst drug in this country is not tobacco," said Nelson, himself a smoker, alluding to the use of alcohol as being more damaging to society.

"It's insane. You're taking away people's rights," Pearson said.

Kuhn said the city would be setting a good example by supporting the smoking ban.

"I guess I don't view smoking in front of children as a right," Kuhn answered.

After the meeting, Kuhn said, "I wanted to get their input and have them vote on it next month." The Park Board meets monthly.

The board did agree to place "no smoking signs" on the shelters and enclosed buildings in all city parks to bring the city in compliance with the 2008 Smokefree Air Act.

"What I was there for was to get the signs up and have them take under consideration the proposed ordinance," Kuhn said.

It is unclear whether Kuhn will take the proposal to the City Council.

Nelson and Pearson reminded him that the Park Board is responsible for making policy for city parks, not the City Council.

"We're the bosses (of the parks)," Pearson said, "not the City Council."

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