Lansing council to discuss request to ban smoking
At least 2 council members support taking action
Lansing City Council will discuss on Thursday a resident's proposal to snuff out smoking in all enclosed public places in the city.
"This community has laws against drunk driving. I feel that this community should take the next step and protect itself against the dangers of secondhand smoking," Matthew Gledhill, a part-time waiter at Applebee's in Leavenworth and a full-time student at MidAmerica Nazarene University, told council members at their meeting last week.
He said he wanted council members to consider a ban on smoking in all enclosed public areas -- including workplaces, bars and restaurants -- to protect workers and members of the nonsmoking public from secondhand smoke.
He told council members he recently began investigating secondhand smoke for the topic of a project at school. What he found, he said, was jarring.
"Its harmful effects to young children and expectant mothers were far beyond what I had ever imagined," he said. "Reports indicate that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure."
Gledhill, who grew up in California, which has a statewide smoking ban on "all enclosed places of employment" asked the council to be put on their next meeting agenda. There, he said, he would "unravel the myths and expose the dangers of this current threat to our community."
Mayor Kenneth Bernard said the issue would be placed on the agenda for the council's Thursday meeting.
Although there was little comment from council members during the meeting about Gledhill's proposal, at least two members indicated early support for Gledhill.
Billy Blackwell told Gledhill after the meeting that he would do what he could to help him.
And though he was absent from the meeting, Robert Ulin continued voicing support for a smoking ban.
"I think it's time for Lansing to lead, not follow, and conduct public meetings about banning smoking in all public places," Ulin wrote in an e-mail to council members. "The argument that smokers will go elsewhere is unfortunate. This is a public health issue and it deserves our consideration. Besides, since nonsmokers far outnumber smokers, a Lansing ban on smoking could increase business in our restaurants -- food for thought."
In another e-mail, Ulin offered council members a copy of a model anti-smoking ordinance from the Mid-America Regional Council.
"Some of you have already seen this model smoking ordinance from MARC," Ulin wrote. "I'm not suggesting this is the model we should adopt, but I believe that:
"1. Our primary job is to protect life and property.
"2. The life of those working in restaurants is every bit as precious as the lives of our own children.
"3. Nonsmokers, over 70 percent of the population, have the right to eat in a restaurant, or assemble in a pubic place, that does not threaten their health."
Gledhill has said that his goal was to visit each community in Leavenworth County to urge smoking bans. He started in Lansing, his hometown.