Trumann Council discusses tobacco ordinance

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Trumann City Council heard the first of three readings for an ordinance regulating smoking, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes on city property Tuesday night.

If passed, the ordinance would prohibit the use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes in all enclosed areas owned by the city including city-owned buildings and vehicles, the baseball/softball fields, and all the city parks, as well as within 25 feet of entrances and bleachers. Violations would result in a $50 fine.

Mayor Barbara Lewallen said a lot of cities in the state are passing these ordinances for health reasons and that they are also good to have when going after grants for parks. A representative with St. Bernards Tobacco Prevention Program said Harrisburg just passed a similar ordinance. Lewallen said they were not passing the ordinance tonight and would revisit it for the second and third readings over the next couple months to give the council time to look it over and get feedback from the community.

Alderman Charles Goza expressed some concern over not having designated smoking areas at the Sports Complex. Alderman Rick Atkins said, "Most places are doing this, and what I'm seeing is that people leave between games to do their smoking." The council passed the first reading with a vote of 8-1 with Goza voting against.

The council also heard from Police Chief Chad Henson, who spoke about Arkansas House Bill 1504, which will require prescribers to check the prescription drug monitoring program when prescribing certain medicines. According to Henson, 111 million oxycontin pills were prescribed in 2015. He said Poinsett County is in the top five counties in the state for prescribing oxycontin and in the top two counties for methadone, which is used for getting off opiods.

Henson said many people do need the pills for pain--and used himself as an example when he had knee surgery--but that many people doctor shop, which is where they travel to several cities in one day to get a prescription filled several times so they can sell the drugs. "They can get 90 pills in three hours," Henson said. "Now we could prove people are selling those pills."

He said half of prescribers are currently in the drug monitoring program, but the bill up for vote this week would require all prescribers to participate in the program. They would be obligated to look at the database, which would cut down on doctor shopping. He said the Police Association supports the bill and that police are not butting heads with the medical community over it but that doctors are mandated to prescribe pills if a patient says they are in pain."Fifteen states have done it already and have reduced overdose deaths by 25 percent," Henson said. He said he was confident State Representatives Johnny Rye and Dave Wallace were for the bill but urged council members to be sure to call them to voice their support for the bill.

In other business, the council:

*Approved the Make-A-Wish Bucket Brigade at Highways 69 and 463 for Friday, Feb. 17.

*Approved a resolution removing inventory from the municipal court, and the street, fire, and administration departments.

*Approved a resolution to purchase a 2016 Ford F-250 for $40,174 from Central Ford for the Street Department. The truck will replace one that is inoperable and will be used for equipment removal and as a service vehicle. Director of Public Works Scotty Jones said that among other things, it will eliminate the $600 cost of roadside assistance they frequently incur when they get flat tires going to the landfill. Jones said the money for the truck will come out of the street department's budget and not from tax money.

*Approved a change order for the street shop to add a second floor storage area at a cost of $17,500. Jones said they don't have the ability to do second floor framing, and Lewallen said it would be less expensive to have the contractor do it while the shop is still under construction rather than later.

*Approved an ordinance amending the 2016 budget.

*Heard a state of the city report from the mayor.

*Approved a resolution to place a lien on 340 Holly Avenue.

*Heard an update from Code Enforcement on several properties.

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