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Wed January 21, 2009
No vote given to smoking ban at hospital
By Scott Harvey
Commerce – In an unexpected move, the Commerce City Council failed to obtain a second motion toward the approval of a proposed smoking ban on the campus of the Hunt Regional Community Hospital.
The Council Tuesday night was presented with the first reading of an ordinance that prohibits tobacco products on property owned by the Hunt Memorial Hospital District. When a first motion put forth by Councilman Bob Monday was not met with a second, the action item failed to go before a vote.
Last summer, Hospital District Board of Directors approved a plan to prohibit smoking on all its properties effective Jan 1. The passage of an ordinance from the City of Commerce would have helped assure an authoritative figure to deal with patients and or visitors not willing to comply with the policy.
Prior to consideration by the Council, Commerce City Manager Dion Miller told council members he had spoken to Police Chief Kerry Crews, where Crews told Miller the extra responsibility would not be a problem for the department. Miller tells KETR he was surprised by the no vote. According to Mayor Quay Throgmorton, there was no discussion regarding the no vote following the meeting.
Despite the no vote, the Hospital District can continue to enact its new policies, only without Commerce PD to call upon if such policies are not obeyed.
When asked if the ordinance would be brought back before council, both Miller and Throgmorton said there's a possibility.
Last month, the Greenville City Council established the same smoking ban ordinance for its hospital campus.
Under the new regulations, effective January 1, 2009, areas once open to smoking on Hunt Memorial Hospital District campuses, such as surrounding and adjacent grounds as well as on-site parking areas, are no longer allowed.
To help facilitate the ban, Hunt County hospitals in August began providing a smoking cessation program to all employees who use tobacco.