Wednesday night marked the fourth speech in public communication trying to convince just one member of the city council to put this item on the agenda for discussion. To this point they have all refused.
In this speech, however, I revealed that I had a very unlikely supporter of this effort and also notified everyone of the Union-Tribune article that was coming out Thursday morning. If you missed the article here is the link:
As I have done after each meeting, I am posting a copy of the speech read to the City Council. Here it is:
Sometimes you have to turn to the unlikeliest of sources for support. After the last City Council Meeting I decided to reach out to a place nobody would expect to
support a smoking ban.
When I sent my request for support to them I was not sure what to expect. I was
pleasantly surprised when I received an email back. It was a short response—only 3 sentences. But it was the second sentence that spoke volumes. It read:
“We further believe that the conclusions of public health officials concerning environmental tobacco smoke are sufficient to warrant measures that regulate smoking in public places.”
The company that made that statement is Altria Group Incorporated—better known as Philip Morris USA, the largest tobacco company in the United States.
The public health officials that they refer to include the surgeon general, who is the nation’s leading speaker on matters of public health.
So while the leading tobacco company agrees with the surgeon general’s report that there is no risk-free level of second hand smoke, the five members of the Santee City Council apparently do not. They are putting personal liberty and freedom ahead of the health and safety of the public and in particular our children by refusing to put the topic on their agenda for discussion and action.
The fact that Santee is the only city to allow smoking in its city parks is now getting attention from the media. The Union-Tribune will be publishing an article in tomorrow’s edition. It is being written by Karen Pearlman and will appear in the East County section.
The effort by public health officials, both nationwide and locally, to reduce and prevent smoking among young people is being undermined by the continued allowance of smoking at our city parks.
Nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood. The fewer places our youth are exposed to smoking…the less likely they will ever begin smoking.
More than 600,000 middle school students in this country smoke cigarettes. About 1.5 million students under age 18 will try their first cigarette this year. The
younger children are when they try tobacco the more likely they are to become
This is unacceptable
I am continuing this fight for one simple reason: the health and well being of our children.
Sadly, children are powerless to protect themselves from all of this. But we are not powerless to help protect them.
As parents, neighbors, and government officials---as a society---we want nothing but the best for our children. We want them to be safe and to grow up healthy.
Yet, we allow our children to breathe a substance that contains more than 50 cancer-causing chemicals.
We allow them to be exposed to a substance that makes healthy children sick and sick children even sicker.
We allow them to be exposed to the cancer causing habit, knowing that if they start and become addicted it—that it could eventually kill them.
We can do better and we should do better. Especially in Santee.
After the speech, Councilman John Minto spoke up simply to once again ask me to clarify where it is I live. We've already clarified that I live in Lakeside, John. Nothing news breaking there. As has been previously told—my daughter goes to school in Santee. I am on the board for the Santee School District Foundation.I serve on three committees for the Santee School District—not to mention I generally grocery shop in Santee. My daughter plays soccer at the Sportsplex in Santee, and I generally dine and shop in Santee. I've also said that I plan on moving to Santee when I can.
I guess it might be your way to deflect the attention from you guys I don't know. Doesn't make much sense to continually bring it up.
Councilman Jack Dale then spoke up to advise the other members that he was interviewed for the article that I mentioned. He seemed to be open to possibly considering a ban in the future. The one thing he pointed out and also stated in the Union-Tribune story was that he was shocked to learn that Santee was the only city in San Diego County without a smoking ban. Really? I've only stated that fact in each of my speeches.
Finally Vice Mayor Rob McNelis chimed in and said that while he 1000% supports promoting a healthy lifestyle he also is 1000% against forcing someone to comply.
So it's still not on the agenda, but perhaps we started to make progress. There are two more City Council meetings before the community forum scheduled to be held on April 18th at 7:00PM in the theater of West Hills High School.
Vice Mayor Rob McNelis has agreed to be there along with representatives from the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, Santee Solutions, Santee Collaborative, and Health and Human Service Agency.