Teen tobacco use ordinance approved | CraigDailyPress.com
Jeff Swanson

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Teen tobacco use ordinance approved

Ordinance must pass again to become law

By a 5-2 vote, the Craig City Council passed the first reading of one of the most debated ordinances in recent history.

The Council voted Tuesday night to pass Ordinance 902, which prohibits the sale, public use and possession of tobacco by minors. Counselors Natalie Alden, Tom Gilchrist, Bill Johnston, Kent Neilson and Mayor Dave DeRose all voted in favor of the ordinance, while Carl Chapman and Don Jones voted against it.

The ordinance was changed from the original draft, invoking the word “public,” which is defined as the entire widths of streets and alley right-of-ways, parking areas and grounds outside of establishments open to the public such as restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, bars and other places of gathering for public amusement.

The new ordinance will also feature a sunset clause, which will allow the sitting Council in 2003 to determine the effects that the ordinance has had in its first two years.

“What I would like to see the sunset clause do is to bring to attention this issue before whoever is sitting in these seats two years from now,” Councilman Bill Johnston said. “It is not our job to create new laws that will make us feel good about ourselves. It would also invite public opinion to let the Council know how the laws is working at that time.”

As has been the case for the last two months, both supporters and detractors of the ordinance packed into City Hall to voice their opinions.

“There are a lot of good kids who smoke,” said Mike Tucci, owner of Tucci Woodworks. “All this is going to do is put those good kids into the system and force them to experience it when otherwise they wouldn’t have to. I don’t see that doing anybody any good.”

Detractors have expressed concerns that the ordinance could possibly re-create problems that once existed between the police department and local youth, as well as take the responsibility for raising children out of the hands of the parents.

Moffat County High School student Nikki Zulian presented the results of a survey taken over a four-day period in front of City Market grocery store.

The survey gave information on the proposed ordinance, before either a sunset clause or the word “public” was added, and asked pollsters if they would support such an ordinance.

Adults who participated in the survey responded with 413 “yes” votes, while 105 adults were against a proposed ordinance.

Minors participating in the survey saw a return of 88 votes in favor, with 23 percent against an ordinance.

A total of 627 residents 7 percent of Craig’s population participated in the survey, which according to Zulian “is a lot more than voted in the City Council election.”

Councilman Don Jones, who opposes the ordinance, believes that creating another law targeting minors will create problems within the community.

“I have looked at both sides of this issue for the last eight weeks, received e-mails and talked to people on the street about this,” he said. “Just like the alcohol problem that we have, kids still find it and they are still out there partying. I don’t see where this will do anything but cause heartaches for people throughout the community, as well as more problems for our police department.

“I think we need more focus on classroom education, focusing on kids in kindergarten through fourth grade.”

Chapman believes that if the ordinance is to be made law, it should reflect the entire county, rather than just within the city limits.

“All we’re going to do is drive kids out of the city to smoke,” he said. “Along with that, I have always said that this should be a vote of the people. I don’t think that seven people should have the say for what 9,000 people want.”

The ordinance will go to a second reading on Aug. 7.