City Commission re-addresses smoking and vaping ordinance

A K-State student smokes a cigarette in the designated smoking area outside the K-State Student Union Monday. K-State expressed support for a complete ban of on-campus smoking in the recent Student Government elections. (Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

Manhattan City Commission met in City Hall Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to discuss a multitude of topics— including the combining of the cigarette and e-cigarette ordinances.

The Flint Hills Wellness Coalition sent in a request to the City Commission to combine the two separate ordinances of smoking and e-cigarettes so that there would be no ambiguity on the matter.

Sept. 26, City Commission held a draft meeting to discuss possible changes. On Nov. 5, they approved the first reading of the ordinance — to combine the smoking and e-cigarette ordinances.

The other part of the ordinance was discussed further on Tuesday night. It caused a divide regarding whether or not to change the ordinance or leave it as it was when it was drafted ten years prior.

The changes discussed included whether city parks and trails be smoke-free, whether or not to allow smoking or vaping in retail vaping and smoking stores, signage showing the prohibited activity of smoking or vaping, the fine structure for users and proprietors, whether to prohibit smoking on outdoor patios for dining and finally whether or not to prohibit use of smoking and vaping on city golf courses.

Jerred McKee, City Commissioner, spoke on his view of the ordinance.

“I kind of want to level a few facts that are important that helped me reach my decision,” McKee said. “We as a society aren’t always driven by morality and more driven by money.”

McKee also explained that the Center for Disease Control mentioned on their website that 2.5 million non-smokers have died to second hand smoke exposure.

Julie Gibbs, Riley County Health Department Director, who is favor of the change of the ordinance, talked about the effect of second hand smoking. Gibbs presented data from the National College Health Assessment conducted at Kansas State in 2018 that stated that less than 10 percent of K-State students smoke or vape. Gibbs stated they assume the students are the 10 percent are the majority of clientele in Aggieville bars.

“This is not about taking rights away from smokers,” Gibbs said. “But it is rather a public health issue.”

Following the comments from commissioners, it was voted 3-2 for the ordinance to stay at the 20 foot range of smoking or vaping in any public business.