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Adrian latest to adopt smoke-free park areas

ADRIAN -- The Adrian City Council voted on Monday to establish smoke-free parks and recreation areas, becoming the third community within Nobles-Rock Public Health Service (NRPHS) territory to do so.

Council members voted 4-1 to enact the policy, revising action they took late last year that made all city-owned buildings and vehicles smoke-free as of Jan. 1.

Adrian High School Partners in Prevention (PIP) members Lacy Weidert and Courtney Thier made a power point presentation to inform the council prior to its vote. Nearly a dozen other students were on hand to show support for the smoke-free policy.

NRPHS health educator Paula Anderson said the students showed a Minnesota map identifying each of the cities that have already adopted a smoke-free policy in public parks and recreation areas. In the last two years, the number of cities adopting smoke-free policies has more than doubled, she added. Residents in Luverne and Ellsworth have already established policies in their communities, and Worthington has approved the placement of signs in park and recreation spaces.

In Adrian, the smoke-free policy will be in effect in the upper and lower parks, the baseball and softball fields and the play area of the local campground. Individual campsites are not included in the policy.

Anderson said one council member took issue with the dangers of second-hand smoke compared to the smoke emitted from fire pits at the campground.

"... It's not just about the second-hand smoke exposure, but about changing community norms about smoking -- that it's not an acceptable behavior and something that we don't want our kids to see," Anderson said. "Parks and rec areas are about health, wellness and fun -- and that's the message that we are sending, and we're thankful to the Adrian City Council for taking an active part."

Mary Kellen cast the lone vote in opposition to the smoke-free policy, but said her decision had more to do with potential ramifications than with her personal feelings.

"I don't smoke and don't condone smoking, but we have a lot of things in the environment that affect us -- smoking is only one of them," she said, adding that things like lawn spraying and car emissions also pollute the air.

Kellen, who also serves on the city's park board, said that group was concerned about the policy. Outside air, she said, should be free to anyone.

"I just felt compelled to say I didn't fully agree with it," Kellen said of the policy. "I'm one of those that smoke bothers me, but I just move somewhere else. There's a lot of other things that are not so visible to us that we're not concerned with, and we should be."

Weidert, an AHS senior, was surprised there wasn't more opposition to the smoke-free policy request, especially since some council members are smokers. But, she added, the group was well prepared going into the meeting.

As part of their presentation, PIP members collected cigarette butts from the public parks in Adrian -- filling two large jars in just a couple of hours.

"They were kind of surprised," Weidert said of the reaction council members had to the jars.

Both Weidert and Thier are officers in Adrian's PIP organization, which boasts approximately 30 members.

"I joined Partners in Prevention because I'm not a big believer in tobacco and alcohol," Weidert said. "It was something that was fun to do, and it is something that I feel passionate about."

Thier became involved in the group because she wants to see the baseball and softball diamonds go smoke-free, especially during school games.

"We do see some parents smoke during these events, and we don't approve of that," Thier said.

She said making the area smoke-free shouldn't impact attendance at school games.

"It's kind of like (going to) a movie -- you have to restrain yourself from smoking for a period of time," she added.

Adrian's PIP group has taken an active role in the school and community. In addition to the smoke-free parks campaign, students presented a health fair in January, participated in the national Kick Butts Day program, spoke with middle schoolers about Manipulation 101 -- how advertisers target tobacco products to teens -- and spoke to ninth-graders about teen pregnancy. The group is supervised by Tammi Hieronimus.

Anderson's goal is to get each community with a school district within NRPHS service territory to enact a smoke-free policy. Partners in Prevention students do the research and create the presentation to give to city council members.

In June, students will visit the Beaver Creek City Council, and SV-RL-B students will attend a July city council meeting in Brewster.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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