Expo Center Operations Director Mike Jackson doesn’t see making all the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center facilities and grounds tobacco free as deterring events from coming here.
But he’s unsure how he’s going police it.
Shawnee city commissioners Monday night approved an ordinance which will prohibit all types of tobacco use on city owned and operated properties. The measure passed 4-3.
Commissioners Pam Stephens, Linda Agee and James Harrod voted against the ordinance.
Mayor Wes Mainord joined commissioners Keith Hall, John Winterringer and Steve Smith in approving it. Because the commission lacked the necessary five votes to approve the emergency clause, the ordinance will not go into effect for 30 days.
Jackson asked, “Who’s supposed to police it? Is it the responsibility of the staff here? And what are you supposed to do when you catch them?”
He said he and his staff do a good job now of policing it in the buildings throughout the expo center grounds.
“But what am I to do when I have 500 RVs here for a rally or a horse sale and there is a man standing outside and while saddling his horse he is smoking?”
Jackson doesn’t see any significant impact the new ordinance will have on events coming here.
He added, “There’s much more of a problem with enforcing it. I think people are going to do it. I don’t think it’s going to keep them from coming here.”
Pointing to the annual IFYR, which draws around 900 or more high school rodeo contestants, their parents, and others along with several hundred volunteers, he said, “The contestants are minors. They aren’t supposed to be doing it in the first place.
“But I’m sure they do it though,” he added. “But you still have all their parents on the grounds.”
The contestant can be kicked out of the rodeo if caught using tobacco or alcohol.
“I have 129 pipe liners down in the RV park right now,” Jackson said Tuesday afternoon. “You’re asking for a near impossibility. It’s kind of a broad deal.”
Shawnee City Manager Brian McDougal said the new ordinance will be difficult to enforce but believes the police department will use passive enforcement.
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“It will most likely be enforced on a complaint basis,” he said.
He said the police will use discretion when writing citations and said enforcing this will be no different than any other crime, such as speeding or throwing trash out the window.
“We can’t catch every single person,” he said.
Shawnee Police Chief Russell Frantz weighed in on the police enforcing the new ordinance.
“The tobacco issue is like speeding - if the officer sees it they can act on it: they can give a warning or cite the violator,” the chief stated.
As one of the many who helped build KidSpace, Frantz said he's always hated seeing cigarette butts in the wood chips at that park. He's also hoping the ordinance will make for cleaner city parks without cigarette butts thrown all over the ground.
The chief said he hasn't fully read through the ordinance yet and looked at possible fines, but he said officers will be taking a "common sense approach" to enforcement.
Reporters Jessica Walker and Kim Morava contributed to this report.