Carter County opts out of smoke-free playground bill

Published 8:53 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

Recently, Knox County lawmakers drafted a bill seeking to ban smoking from parks owned by local governments.

During Monday night’s meeting, the Carter County Commission considered opting into the bill, which if passed by state legislators would give county governments the ability to regulate smoking at county-owned parks.

The commission, however, voted 11-9 on a motion to opt into the bill. The motion didn’t have the majority vote needed to pass.

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Commissioners William Campbell, Mark Blevins, Bradley Johnson, Ronnie Trivett, Isaiah Grindstaff, Jerry Profitt, Gary Bailey, Travis Hill, and Aaron Fraizer all voted no on the motion. Commissioners Mike Hill, Patty Woodby, Austin Jaynes, Ross Garland, Layla Ward, Ginger Holdren, Randall Jenkins, Sonja Culler, Robin McKamey, Kelly Collins and Rick Richardson all voted yes. Chairman Ray Lyons and commissioners Robert Acuff and Nancy Brown were absent. Commissioner Charles Von Cannon abstained from the vote.

Some commissioners raised concerns on how non-smoking regulations would be enforced by the county. Commissioner Travis Hill spoke up during the meeting and said that he feels that the bill is just “government overreach.” Other commissioners voiced agreement with Hill.

Jillian Reece, director of the Carter County Drug Prevention, said she feels that regulating smoking at local parks would be a good thing for the county.

“It’s disappointing for our county,” said Reece about the commission’s vote. “This legislation is not trying to take anybody’s freedom away. It is just to protect our citizen’s that can’t necessarily speak for themselves. We also know that there is a huge problem with litter in our communities, and so, it would have been an opportunity to decrease that as well.”

Carter County has six parks that non-smoking regulations could be applied to.