Squashing out smoking in Kearney's parks

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Updated: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 10:04:57 CST

UPDATE: Kearney City Council approved the Tobacco Free Courtesy Rule with a unanimous vote Tuesday night.

Nebraskans put their butts out just over three years ago when Nebraska's Clean Indoor Air Effect went into effect.  The law bans smoking in all indoor public places and business.  Tuesday night, Kearney is taking that fight outside. 

This time of year, there's plenty of leaves littering the parks.

But one thing you don't see on the ground? Cigarette butts.

"Kearney is a wonderful town. And their parks are just wonderful," said Yolanda Krueger, a Kearney resident who visits Yanney Park daily. 

In fact, when News 5 took a walk around Yanney Park, we didn't spot a single butt. And Kearney wants to keep it that way.

"They're very nice, well kept," said Darlene Cerny, another proud Kearney resident. 

After a Tobacco Free Courtesy Rule was first introduced to Parks and Recreation in July, the torch has been passed to Kearney City Council.

They'll make their decision on the rule Tuesday night.

"I think it's a great idea," said Autumn Quinonut, a Kearney High student. 

If Council votes yes, you'll soon see Tobacco Free signs lining Kearney's parks.  But one thing you won't see?  A tobacco task force.

That's because the new rule-- keeping all tobacco products out of the city's park and recreation areas-- is self-enforced. It relies on park users to keep each other in check.  And with all the support, that won't seem to be a problem.

"I think that's great because there's always kids out here and people and some people can't be around smoke or even the smell of it afterward," added Krueger.

It's not just about squashing smoking.  Where there's smoke there's fire-- and this courtesy rule could also cut down on other problems.

"This is close to the school so a lot of kids cut school and come here. It would limit their places to go," said Quinonut. 

It doesn't stop there.  Cerny said she's hopeful if people start following the new rule, they'll also start following the law.

"The young people will probably not smoke pot and narcotics. And I just think it's a great idea," said Cerny. 

Kearney City Council meets Tuesday night at 7.  Check back for the very latest on that vote.