News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 29, 2012

Officials consider smoke-free city parks

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — City officials might rub out the use of tobacco products in city parks soon.

CHANCES for Indiana Youth’s Alia Hazel addressed the Terre Haute Parks and Recreation board of trustees Wednesday evening, issuing her request that the organization go smoke-free at all its facilities and properties. Nationally, more parks are joining the movement to become smoke-free areas, and considering the organization’s mission of improving health and well-being, it seems fitting, she said.

CHANCES is housed in the Booker T. Washington Community Center, which is owned by the parks department.

“In Monroe County, all the parks have gone smoke-free,” Hazel said, adding more than 655 municipalities across the country have adopted some kind of tobacco rules. In Clay County, the Brazil parks have recently taken similar measures, she said.

Adopting a smoking ban in city parks will place Terre Haute at the leading edge of progressive communities interested in health, she added.

“I would like to see you take it to the county,” she said, encouraging the city parks department to persuade the county in following that lead. “Yes, it would be my goal to make it a county-wide policy.”

In addition to health concerns, Hazel said the litter from cigarette butts and wrappers is a problem in parks, as is the bad example smoking sets for children.

Board member Nancy Cummins expressed her support for the move, and superintendent Eddie Bird said he’ll check with the city’s legal department about the specific wording.

“As a park board, you could just vote to pass it,” he said, explaining the organization doesn’t have to conduct public hearings on the matter as was done in debates concerning a smoking ban in taverns and places of business.

The board agreed to review the policy once drafted.

Also, Brandon Halleck, director of CHANCES for Indiana Youth, reported that the Booker T. Washington Community Center served dinner to more than 250 people Thanksgiving day. His program is also serving evening meals to children and currently has upward of 30 kids participating in an after-school program.

“The gym’s being used every night of the week until 9 or 10,” he said, adding his group hopes to partner with another non-profit in the establishment of a soup kitchen there soon.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.