Council decides against hospital smoking ordinance
by Emily McLain
Dec 02, 2013 | 1374 views |  0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SYLACAUGA - The City Council decided against a request from Coosa Valley Medical Center to pass a city ordinance banning smoking on the hospital campus.

Council President Rocky Lucas, liaison to the Hospital Board, proposed the hospital’s idea to the City Council at a recent work session, and it was met by hesitation from other council members as well as Police Chief Chris Carden.

The hospital proposed the ordinance as a way to give teeth to its tobacco-free policy going into effect Jan. 1. Having limited on-campus tobacco use since 2007, CVMC and all of its affiliated facilities will be completely tobacco-free with the New Year. The hospital plans to increase security presence around its facilities to help enforce the policy.

At a work session Monday night, Lucas said he had discussed the idea further with Carden, Mayor Doug Murphree and attorneys Barry Vaughn, Win Livingston and Dale Price at a meeting last week.

“The police chief had some initial heartburn about it, and I’ll give it to him, he did a lot of research,” Lucas said. “Let me back up and say, Coosa Valley Medical Center is such a big player in our city. They’re the largest employer, and they do so much in the community. I took it upon myself to make sure we exhausted all of our resources, so I got us all together to talk about this ordinance, and what I got out of it is they didn’t feel comfortable with it. (Livingston) talked to the (Alabama League of Municipalities) and they brought up the word ‘unconstitutional.’ There was some conversation going around of this is no different than the police chief saying, ‘From now on, anybody over 60 you stop, we’re not going to give a ticket, but anybody between ages 16 and 59, we’re going to give them all a ticket.’ Some selective enforcement, I guess you could say.”

No other city in the state has passed an exclusive smoking ordinance such as this, Lucas said, adding that he does not “want to be the guinea pig.”

The council did note that the hospital can always call the police if a person refuses to leave its campus after being asked to do so.

“(The ordinance) sounds like a great idea to me, and I am in favor of that;” Lucas said. “However, we’ve got to protect ourselves as far as the city goes, and what sounds good might not be what’s best.”

Councilmen gave Lucas the go-ahead to relay the city’s decision to CVMC.

Also at Monday’s work session, the council discussed a variety of topics including:

• Updating the Airport Layout Plan to exclude 40 acres of property that was found to be owned by the Industrial Development Board. The council decided to consult with the FAA about potential ramifications before making any changes.

• Bids for the City Hall improvement project.

• Reconstructing the city’s website to include a variety of online services.

• Revisions to the city’s garbage ordinance.

• Re-striping city roads that have become a safety hazard at night.

The council meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. at City Hall.

Contact Emily McLain at eadams@dailyhome.com.