Tobacco-Free Parks Proposal

, Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, September 7 2012 at 3:03 PM, Updated: Fri, September 7 2012 at 3:16 PM

Having a cigarette in Klamath Falls parks could soon result in a $250 fine, if a 'tobacco-free parks' proposal is passed.

Jerry Pantalion doesn't think that city parks should go 'tobacco free'...

"I feel like the people has a right to smoke as much as they don't, especially in an open-air facility.  It's kind of a ridiculous law."

But, backers say a ban would result in fewer cigarette butts, reduce second-hand smoke, and lessen fire potential.

The City Parks Board voted 4 to 2 Thursday to recommend that the Klamath Falls City Council adopt a 'tobacco free' policy for all city parks.

"It applies to all tobacco products."  Says Molly Jespersen of Klamath County Public Health.  "Whether that be cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco."

If approved, the tobacco ban would go into effect on January first of 2013.

The proposal wasn't without opposition.  City council member Bill Adams raised questions about the fairness of barring smokers, whose taxes help to fund city parks.  Also, questions were raised about who would enforce the laws, as police already have limited resources available.

Elly Hall of Klamath County Public Health says surveys suggest that compliance won't be a problem...

"We found that over 80% of the park users do want this policy - so we're hoping that it would be largely self-enforced."

Molly Jespersen adds that Klamath Falls parks wouldn't be the only ones in the state to go tobacco-free...

"Some examples include Prineville, just in Crook County right north of us, Roseburg's another example."

Even if the law passes, Jerry Pantalion says he'll continue to have a smoke in the park...

"Sure I will, sir.  I probably will.  You know, it's my right.  I'm not a real law-breaker or anything."

The tobacco ban will still require approval from the Klamath Falls city council.

The ban would not extend to Kiger Stadium, which would still allow ball players to use chewing tobacco.

About the Author

Lyle Ahrens

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.

Lyle's job history is quite colorful.  He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.

Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.  "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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