Library board to consider outdoor smoking ban

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | 6:11 p.m. CDT; updated 7:54 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 14, 2010

COLUMBIA — Complaints about people smoking outside the Columbia Public Library have given rise to consideration of a smoking ban on all library grounds.

The Daniel Boone Regional Library Board will take public comment on the topic when it meets at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Columbia library. A smoking ban would cover libraries in Columbia, Ashland and Fulton that are part of the regional system.

Elinor Barrett, associate director of the Daniel Boone Regional Library, said the potential ban was initiated by the regional board in August, after several customer complaints. The Columbia Public Library adheres to a city ordinance that prohibits smoking within 20 feet of any business entrance. 

Barrett said her office had received complaints about smokers at the bottom of the ramp leading to the Columbia Public Library as well as at the bottom of the stairs.

While the ramp and stairs are more than 20 feet from the library's entrance, Barrett said, library users did not like to walk past smokers near the entrance. She said there were "a few" complaints about the smokers, though fewer than 10.

In its Aug. 12 meeting, library staff were asked to report on the implications of making the Columbia Public Library property smoke-free, and those findings are expected to be presented at Thursday's meeting.

"This will be the first time we really discuss it," Barrett said Tuesday. "The board may want to consider other options, get public input or take some more time for the matter."

Daniel Boone Regional Library board member Bridget Canaday said she did not need much time to consider a ban. "I personally am very anti-smoking," she said. "I can very comfortably say I would completely support a tobacco ban on library property."

Canaday said she felt that Missouri is behind when it comes to anti-smoking legislation and that a smoking ban would present a "progressive direction" that all libraries should adopt.

"The library is supposed to be a healthy place," Canaday said. "People shouldn't have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get there."

Columbia Library District board member David McDonald also supports a smoking ban. 

"The evidence is overwhelming that it produces a whole list of harmful medical effects, and there's also substantial evidence that secondhand smoke is significantly harmful," McDonald said, calling the current smoking situation outside of the Columbia Public Library, "leaving a bit to be desired."

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Sonja Scott September 14, 2010 | 6:49 p.m.

I for one hate to bring my kids through the cloud of smoke to get in the door. They don't like it either. They all hold their breath when a smoker is spotted!

(Report Comment)
Gregory Brown September 14, 2010 | 6:51 p.m.

I don't smoke, don't associate with many people who do, and am fully supportive of a ban on smoking inside restaurants, bars and other public places. However, given that everybody isn't as pure and healthy as I and some need the regular nicotine fix, I think the 20 foot rule is fine. Simply passing by a smoker at the foot of the stairs or the end of the ramp isn't going to expose anybody to significant amounts of "secondhand smoke". Some may argue that simply seeing someone smoking is a bad example for children. The same can be said about religious cultists on street corners or appearing at the front door of your home. Parents can use the example to point out how ugly most smokers look when they're indulging.

(Report Comment)
Phil Wilkinson September 14, 2010 | 7:17 p.m.

20 feet is 20 feet. The majority of the smokers have been obeying the rules. But now that seems it isn't good enough anymore. I bet that if someones children hold their breath when walking past smokers that they were taught to do that by their parents and I bet as well that the children's attitude towards smokers was taught by the parents as well.....How about we start keeping obese people from eating 20 feet from any public building or for that matter in public at all. After all, we are doing it for their health, right?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 14, 2010 | 7:51 p.m.

Is Bridget Canaday going to eliminate sweet snacks and sodas from the library kiosk if the library is supposed to be a healthy place? Shut down the elevator and have people walk the stairs? Will she personally patrol the grounds or make the staff deal with the rare occurrence of smokers being too close?

(Report Comment)
MIchael Crafferty September 15, 2010 | 12:14 a.m.

My mom no longer exposes anyone to secondhand smoke. She switched to an electronic cigarette because there is NO tar or carbon monoxide since it produces a vapor by heating and atomizing a nicotine solution instead of burning anything. It gives her full satisfaction without thousands of the chemicals added to tobacco or made by the burning process. She loves her kit from and she no longer starts her day with a fit of smoker's cough. It is a great alternative to smoking tobacco.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 15, 2010 | 5:48 p.m.

Doesn't public smoking become a hazard to others, as perpetrated by the cancer stick burner?

Inhaling the smoke from another person's cigarette makes it more difficult for me to breathe, gives me nausea, sets off my asthma, makes my eyes tear,makes my heart race and triggers a migraine.

If a puffer can't control where their smoke goes and it impacts my health and peace of mind, should I not be able to accuse them of some kind of assault on my person and psyche?
If I can not, then I rely on the private land owner to ensure that there is a no smoking policy on their private property.

And while spitting in their direction would be unhealthy, unsanitary and illegal, it should be legal for me to use a water pistol to shoot a stream at the tip of their cigarette if they are allowed to ruin my breathing experience. Afterall, it's only a little water...
("Study Confirms Dangers of Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Outdoors")

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