GALLIPOLIS — McKenzie Conley, Gallia County Health Department’s director for Tobacco Use, Prevention and Cessation Grant, appeared before the Gallipolis City Commission Tuesday to discuss the potential of making Gallipolis City Park a no smoking zone in the future.
Conley listed off a variety of stats discussing why tobacco use was bad for the community and why secondhand smoke was a danger to the public.
“Why do I believe we should have a tobacco free park?” said Conley. “To preserve the park’s beauty and historic value it presents. It’s obviously one of the best landmarks we have in Gallipolis. I went to Marshall (University) and anytime anyone asked where I was from I would say Gallipolis and they would say ‘Oh, that place with that beautiful park by the river.’ Everyone knows that park in our community. We want to preserve the beauty and not see a bunch of litter everywhere.”
Conley said she felt that while having such an important landmark in the community, she felt that by having a tobacco free park the community would serve as a leader to others.
“There’s no safe level of exposure (to secondhand smoke),” said Conley. “It’s the third cause of preventable death in the United States. It is an issue that you can hurt someone else and cause them to have different assorted diseases….It’s going to be really hard to enforce this, and I understand that. So, I’m open to talking about it and I don’t want to act like I have a perfect plan.”
Conley said she hoped a smoke-free park would be an idea that would gather support and become a movement to recognize respect and courtesy for others who choose not to smoke.
“Most of the people might respect (signs in the park) and at least reduce the rate of tobacco use in the park,” said Conley.
Gallipolis City Commissioner Tony Gallagher asked whether vaping would be included with this policy. Conley said she would look into the finer details to make certain she had a comprehensive plan.
“We’re not asking you guys to make a decision today,” said Conley. “If you guys want to think about it and talk about it, we (understand). “
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.