Inhabitants who enjoy a cigarette smoke in between innings at a Greer park may soon be out of this pleasure. Greer has taken the first steps to prohibiting tobacco use in city parks and within 25 feet of a city-owned recreation or park facility. After a nearly hour-long debate, the law passed its first reading 4-2. Council members Wayne Griffin, Kimberly Bookert, Judy Albert and Mayor Rick Danner voted for it, while Councilmen Jay Arrowood and Lee Dumas voted against. Councilman Wyley Bettis was away.
Much of the discussion centered on private property rights and setting an example for the kids who use Greer’s parks.
Arrowood is interested about private property rights, that this regulation would open the door for banning smoking tobacco in other areas, such as restaurants and other privately owned establishments.
“It’s going to be an assault on private businesses,” he declared. “It’s going to be on attack on private property owners. I don’t believe in that.”
Griffin, who noted he was a ex-smoker, argued it doesn’t make sense to permit smoking in a place that emphasizes exercise.
“You’re setting an example. … Kids are watching,” he added. “They’re watching what you do.”
The question of whether to permit smoking in cars while in the park parking lots was asked. City Administrator Ed Driggers said there was “not an intent nor a directive that we’re going on knocking on windows that have smoke tobacco in them.”
Arrowood also said that the law would cost the city approximately $5,000 in signage alone. He questioned whether the ban was needed.
“We already have a smoke-free policy in place. We don’t have a public protest about it. Our director of parks and recreation explained they’ve had no issues with this,” Arrowood said. “So we’re going to create a regulation for a problem that doesn’t really exist.”
The city has a departmental law that is “pretty standard throughout the state in comparison with other agencies where we have designated smoking places that are strongly far away from any play with kids or adults,” concluded Ann Cunningham, Parks and Recreation director.