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Councilman softens smoking stance

November 15, 2002

Karen S. Kim

Glendale's smokers might have lit a little flame in Councilman Bob

Yousefian's heart, prompting him to soften his original position of

supporting a total ban on cigarettes and cigars in city parks.

The council discussed banning smoking in parks at its meeting

Tuesday.

"I actually changed my mind while I was driving home Tuesday," he

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said Thursday. "My preference is to have no smoking at all, but I

think I need to put my own feelings aside and act like what a council

person should be. After all, people who smoke and go to the park pay

taxes, too."

Yousefian had joined the rest of the council in pushing for

restrictions on smoking in city parks. The issue had been brought to

the council's attention by Councilman Gus Gomez, who said he and his

daughter had been bothered by cigarette smoke at a park recently.

Gomez said his position on the issue hasn't changed.

"My first priority is going to be the health of the children," he

said Thursday. "I'm still willing to consider all the options, and

that includes the total ban, having designated smoking areas or

prohibiting smoking in courts, spectator stands and those kinds of

places."

Similarly, Councilman Dave Weaver said he hasn't changed his mind

either.

He'd support a full ban or a partial ban, even though it would be

difficult to enforce or patrol, he said.

"I said, 'Yeah, it would be nice if there was not smoking anywhere

in town, but that's not realistic,' " he said. "I'd just as soon it

go away. If my colleagues want to go ahead and stick it on the books,

I'll support that. But I think there's a lot more burning issues in

town than people smoking in open air."

The council is expected to evaluate in a few weeks whether to

establish a total ban on smoking, designate smoking sections or the

prohibit smoking 25 to 50 feet from child play areas in city parks.

Mayor Rafi Manoukian, a former smoker, also weighed in on the

issue Thursday. Illness kept him from participating in the meeting

discussion Tuesday.

"To ban smoking completely, I just don't think that makes sense,"

he said. "I can understand banning it where the children play, and in

those areas, I'm all for it. But people need to understand that

smoking is not just a voluntary thing. It's a disease, and people are

addicted, however a nasty habit it is."

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