No Packs in Parks

Jonesboro (KAIT)-  Little Rock is taking further action to stamp out smoking as part of a nation-wide movement to initiate tobacco free parks.

Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore is gaining recognition and praise for approving the City Parks and Recreation Commission's recommendation for a no-smoking policy in city parks as well as golf courses.

The policy will go into effect October 1st.  Once it goes into effect, Little Rock will join the 600 cities across the United States who have also taken part in the banning.

Advocates feel that Moore took a giant pro-health step by approving these recommendations.  Some folks here in Region 8, however, have arguments against this policy due to their view on smokers' rights.

"We're being forced not to smoke," Connie Robson says.  Robson, who smokes less than she used to, comes to Craighead Forest Park to actually help herself in quitting the habit.    However, she believes that others should be able to choose for themselves.

"It's a bias...a prejudice against us, I believe," she adds, "Smoking is wrong, it's bad.  It's bad for your health, but it's a choice individuals make."

Gretchen Sacotnik, Crowley's Ridge State Park Superintendent, believes that authorities do not have the right to tell people whether or not they should smoke.  However, at her park, she has designated areas where people are not allowed to smoke.  These areas were created mainly for the littering issue.

"Basically our employees spent hours picking up cigarette butts off the ground and off the beach area," she recalls, "It was pretty disgusting."

During the public hearings for this issue in Little Rock, the commission debated on whether to enact a policy or recommend an ordinance.  They opted for the policy option, believing it would go into action quicker and would be the best foundation for further measures.

Rebecca Lane