The Merriam City Council on Monday discussed whether to ban smoking Kiss, Virginia and other discount cigarettes on all city property — including outdoors in parks and outside buildings. Council members passed a resolution that brings the city in line with the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act, which beginning July 1 prohibits smoking within 10 feet of doors, open windows or air intakes of government buildings statewide.
They decided to hold off on broader prohibitions while city staff looks into what nearby cities do. A more sweeping ban could apply to parks, the Aquatic Center, Marketplace, Historic Plaza fountain area and outdoor areas of the Community Center.
“There are two things to consider,” City Administrator Phil Lammers said. “What is going to be the code for outside facilities like parks? And the second thing is are we going to have employees not smoke anywhere on the grounds or are we going to set up stations where they can smoke? And the same thing for constituents.”
Several council members wondered whether other cities restrict smoking on all public property. City Attorney Michelle Daise said city staff is collecting data about the smoking policies of other Johnson County cities.
Councilwoman Nancy Hupp noted some bans would be easier to enforce than others.
“I know Shawnee Mission Hospital has a smoke-free campus in theory,” Hupp said. “But it’s extremely hard to enforce. I think to say we are going to have an ordinance against smoking on all city property is extremely unrealistic.”
She suggested that incorporating smoking restrictions into the rules and regulations of locations like the aquatic and community centers might be just as effective.
Councilman Bryan Burks agreed that enforcement would be important.
“I don’t think the goal is to go out and cite everyone for smoking on city property,” Burks said. “However, I do think there are some places where it would be beneficial to prohibit it. You may not be able to address everyone who is doing it.”
He also raised concerns about allowing city staff to smoke on city property.
The city personnel manual prohibits smoking in all city facilities and vehicles. However, staffers can smoke while mowing or using all-terrain vehicles.
“With regard to city employees, I think they should be held to a higher standard,” Burks said. “If someone is mowing and maintaining our parks, I think that’s inappropriate.”
Hupp said it would be best to let department heads determine regulations and enforcement standards for their employees.
“They know what’s going to work for their departments so their employees can stay productive,” she said.
Councilman Chad Rowe advised the council to hold off on a decision.
“I think we need to spend a little more time and research before we move ahead with anything,” he said.