Fruita considers banning smoking in city parks
The city of Fruita is contemplating banning smoking in all city parks, a potential crackdown that could reignite a debate that pits protection of personal freedoms against protection of public health.
City Council members voted 4-2 Tuesday night to hold a public hearing and possibly vote Nov. 16 on the ordinance, which would prohibit smoking or tobacco in any form in any city-maintained park. Council members Lori Buck, Bob Fuller, Stacey Mascarenas and Terry Moss approved the ordinance on first reading and agreed to the public hearing. Council members Bruce Bonar and Mel Mulder voted against the ordinance.
Mayor Ken Henry said the proposed ordinance grew out of complaints about people smoking during Little League baseball and softball games at Little Salt Wash Park.
“There have been a number of instances where people were smoking in the stands, and a number of them were smoking cigars. When they were asked not to smoke, they basically lit up more and (some) blew the smoke in people’s faces,” said Henry, who has five grandchildren enrolled in Little League and said he attends most of their games.
Henry said Little League officials didn’t feel like they could take action because they lease the park from the city. As someone who attends Junior College World Series games, he also noted the city of Grand Junction doesn’t allow smoking at Suplizio Field or any of its parks or facilities.
“Why can’t we do the same thing in Fruita?” he asked.
Moss, an assistant coach for a first- and second-grade flag football team, said the team was practicing during its regularly scheduled time at Reed Park on Friday when a group of people began smoking nearby. He said the smoke became so prevalent that the kids complained about it, and when he approached the smokers, they noted they had the right to smoke and continued smoking for the entire hour-long practice.
Moss and Mascarenas said they approve of the smoking ban.
“We have a right to breathe clean air,” Mascarenas said. “When my right to breathe clean air is infringed upon, that’s when I have a problem with it.”
Bonar, however, contended the ban is overreaching. He said he has no problem with eliminating smoking at Little Salt Wash Park but questioned who is being harmed if someone wants to smoke at Reed Park when no one else is around.
“I think this is way too broad a stroke to deal with a specific problem,” Bonar said.