By Wyatt Goolsby
ODESSA - Odessa smokers may soon have to fight for their right to light up at city parks. Officials are now asking you if a complete ban on tobacco products is a good idea.
"It's a real problem," Steve Patton, the Director of Odessa Parks and Recreation, said on Wednesday.
The complaints are adding up against the City of Odessa. The use of tobacco in all it's forms could be banned if several problems aren't solved.
"When you go down to Noel Plaza or Progressive Park, you'll see a lot of people smoking at those particular park sites. There are cigarette butts all over the playground, and so we've had some complaints like my child is trying to recreate, and they're over there in a fog of tobacco smoke," Patton explained.
Patton said officials want to solve the cigarette buildup, and secondhand smoking problems, but he wants Odessans to weigh-in on how to do it.
"In an open forum, to talk about should we ban tobacco use in certain areas of the park or can it be the whole park system, or just selected sites, just to see what kind of input we would get," Patton added.
"It's silly," Chris Cook, an Odessa smoker said. "It's not going to accomplish anything, they can't keep people out of parks doing anything."
Cook told NewsWest 9, any kind of a tobacco ban is a bad idea.
When asked what officials should do about the cigarette buildup problem, Cook responded: Put an ashtray. That's all they have to do and these people that come and pick up these butts and it costs the taxpayers money, but they wouldn't take them nearly as long as if they pick up one ash tray and dump it."
However, whatever side of the debate you're on, this issue will soon play out in several public meetings this month.
The first public meeting is Thursday, October 8th at the Sherwood Park Community Building (49th and Everglade) at 6 PM. If you can't make it to that one, the a second meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 15th at the Salinas Park Community Building (500 W. Clements). All Odessans are invited to come and voice their opinion.