Plans for e-cigarette ban still up in the air

Parks and Recreation Commissioners expressed thoughts and concerns over a proposed ban of e-cigarettes in the Grand Traverse County Civic Center. They decided with a 7-2 vote to continue pursuing the ban.

The Grand Traverse County Civic Center is one step closer to being tobacco and e-cigarette free.

While no final decision was made, the county parks and recreation department will move forward with the e-cigarette debate.

At a meeting Thursday night, commissioners heard from the public and were able to voice their own concerns.

The debate centers around a current rule put in place in 2010 which bans tobacco use in county parks. Commissioners are determining whether or not to add e-cigarettes to that ban at the Civic Center only.

The initial ban was put in place to limit secondhand smoke and its dangers, as well as to offer an environment where kids aren't exposed to people smoking.

Commissioner David Grams brought the e-cigarette issue before the department because he heard it was a growing issue at the skate park. He says he is looking out for what's best for the kids and the common good, but some say banning e-cigarettes in the park would be overreaching the power of the governement.

â??We do things for the betterment of our society,â?? said Grams. â??In some cases, we give up certain aspects of our individual liberty because it makes it safer for everybody. We have speed limits; we can't store explosives in our basement.â??

â??I'm not a scientist,â?? another commissioner said. â??Until some academy, the Surgeon General, or the FDA says there's a harm to others as a result of this, I am not in a position to make that call.â??

The Traverse Bay Area Tobacco Coalition and representatives from A Clean Cigarette were at the meeting expressing their opinions both for and against the ban respectively.

The commission will now wait for the prosecutor to draw up a proposal they can vote on at a future meeting.

The Parks and Recreation Commission also decided changes are needed at Twin Lakes Park.

They voted to hire an expert to conduct a site specific assessment of the swim area. The focus will be on a safe beach design and improved signage.

Three people have drowned at the park in the past four years.

The proposal is not a budgeted item, so commissioners will have to find money within their own department or get help from the county.