A proposed ordinance to make all parks smoke-free failed in a tie vote at the Education, Parks and Recreation committee meeting held at New London City Council Chambers on July 25.
Committee Chairman Rev. Wade A. Hyslop, Jr., and Councilman Robert M. Pero voted in favor of the ordinance while Mayor Martin T. Olsen and Deputy Mayor John Russell voted no.
Pero said that people who choose not to smoke shouldn’t feel the effects from people who do.
Olsen, who was a smoker for 25 years before quitting 13 years ago after a bad case of bronchitis, thinks the government is overreaching with this ordinance.
“I worry about another infringement by the government on our personal liberties,” Olsen said, noting that he saw no difference between someone smoking in a park and someone smoking on a sidewalk.
The proposal came from Action Communities for Health, Innovation and EnVironment ChangE (ACHIEVE), an organization created by the National Association of County and City Health Officials. Debra Gray, who serves on the ACHIEVE board, told the committee that she was there in support of the ordinance. She takes her grandson to the city parks and thinks people smoking has an effect on him.
“The best role models kids have are adults,” Gray said.
Cindy Barry, senior program director at the Ledge Light Health District, which provides health services to the citizens of East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, New London, and Waterford, also favored the idea. Barry said that banning smoking on city property and in city parks is part of the tobacco prevention and reduction strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A New London resident, who is a former smoker, also spoke in favor of the ordinance. “It is easier not to start in the first place than to quit,” he said.