tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.


Smoking-ban foes derailed

Opponents of Salina’s clean indoor air ordinance have come up significantly short of the signatures they needed on a petition seeking a special election to repeal the ordinance.

Although the opponents claimed to have gathered 2,150 signatures, the Saline County Clerk’s office counted only 1,757 signatures on the 90 pages of petitions that were turned in June 9 by Gary Swartzendruber and Beth Owens.

Opponents were seeking to force a vote to repeal the ordinance, which took effect May 2. The ordinance bans smoking in nearly all public places, including bars, private clubs and bingo parlors.

Of the 1,757 signatures on the petitions, workers in the county clerk’s office could verify that only 994 belonged to registered voters living in Salina — well short of the 1,390 required to trigger a special election, according to County Clerk Don Merriman.

Merriman said that to call for a vote on the issue, smoking ordinance opponents needed the signatures of 25 percent of Salina city voters who cast ballots in the last election; they came up short by 396 signatures.

Only city voters were eligible to sign the petition, since the ordinance applies only within the city limits.

Merriman said that many signers were either not registered to vote or the address they listed on the petition didn’t match the address in the voter registration records.

“We looked at every last line on every petition,” he said.

There were also some, including Swartzendruber, who signed the petition sheet they were circulating. The law forbids a petition circulator from signing the document they’re carrying, Merriman said. That’s because a circulator isn’t allowed to be a witness to his own signature.

Swartzendruber said Wednesday that he signed some petitions at the top of the page to give other signers an example to follow. He knew his signatures on those petitions would not be valid.

He tried to tell them

Some people also signed the petition more than once, when they were approached by various petition circulators.

“I tried to tell them the guidelines, that this is a real, live, binding petition,” Merriman said of his discussions with the petition organizers. “It’s got to be done right.”

While petition organizers can’t try to add more names to the petitions they’ve already circulated, Merriman said they can start a new petition effort.

Owens, an employee of the Rendezvous Bar, 249 N. Santa Fe, said she was a little surprised by the discrepancy between the number of signatures she thought the group had collected and the number counted by the clerk’s office. Still, she said she figured that “700 to 800 (signatures) were going to be voided anyway.”

Swartzendruber said that he knew a lot of people who signed were ineligible.

“I was sort of concerned about the real lack of specificity, as far as all the circulators making sure the (signees) were registered voters, and I informed them of that point,” he said.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda

When the group got to the level of about 1,600 signatures, Swartzendruber said he advised them to gather at least 50 percent more than the 1,390 needed.

“Now, I don’t want to be one of the ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ brothers,” he said. But “in this case, it would really have been good to have (double),” Swartzendruber said.

Swartzendruber, who is known for his involvement with local political causes, said he acted as an adviser to the opponents of the ordinance but wasn’t involved from the outset.

“There will be somebody grumbling about ‘They didn’t want it to pass and they made damn sure it wouldn’t.’ I don’t want any part of that attitude,” Swartzendruber said.

“It’s kind of sad, in a way, but everybody has their own pitch. No matter what anyone says to the contrary, they’re going to say and think they got ’spooned.’ I’m not in that camp. Don and his staff did a meticulous job.”

Swartzendruber said that since it wasn’t his project to begin with, he wasn’t as “motivated to be meticulous.”

“I will admit, I didn’t go through the (petitions) page by page. I thought, though, if they had 700 more than needed, it would take care of any potential flaws,” he said.

Some ban opponents have expressed their desire to keep circulating petitions for repeal of the ordinance as often as every six months, if need be, until they reach the number of signatures necessary or city commissioners repeal the ordinance, Swartzendruber said.

But they should consider the staff time and its cost to the county, he said. He estimated that with 150 hours invested in verifying the signatures, the cost could reach as high as several thousand dollars.

We may do it again

Owens said their team will have to figure out their next step. If a new petition is required, “then that’s what we’ll have to do.”

James O’Shea, 2314 Hillside, a smoking ban opponent who has spoken several times publicly to the commission, said he’s ready to give a petition another try.

“You get knocked down, you start over again,” he said.

Tracy Hawk, owner of Hawk Vending and Maggie Mae’s bar, 409 S. Broadway, said he supports another petition, because Salina citizens should have a vote on the issue, rather than depending on commissioners.

“They’re deciding on what happens not only to 50,000 citizens, but the additional travelers and such that we have come through Salina,” Hawk said.

It’s good for Salina

Del Myers, health educator with the Salina-Saline County Health Department and a member of the Tobacco Prevention Coalition, said the time it takes organizers to circulate another petition and gather signatures will be of benefit to Salina.

“It will take time, and by then, people should perhaps have a better handle on how this (ordinance) works for the community,” Myers said. “And hopefully not have to spend $20,000 for a special election.”

Commissioners reached Wednesday for comment on the petition’s failure expressed mixed feelings.

“On one hand, I would have liked for the signatures to have been validated so we just could move on with it,” Vice-Mayor Aaron Peck said. “I’m afraid this only drags out the process.

“I hope that … they don’t try to force it back to the commission. As far as I’m concerned, the city commission is done with the issue. I’m personally done talking about it and I just want it be over,” Peck said.

Other issues to consider

Mayor Luci Larson had similar feelings. She said if petitioners are passionate enough about the effort, they’re welcome to again solicit signatures.

“Personally, we have got so many other things to talk about that are coming up within the next six weeks — including the budget — that take precedence,” she said. “I do not want to spend any more time on this. We have got to move forward.”

Said Commissioner Tom Arpke: “I don’t like smoking, but on the other hand, I think it’s unfortunate that we have such strict rules for the long-time business owners that have had smoking in their establishment in the past.

“Someone 18 years and older should be able to decide if they want to go there or not. I wouldn’t be surprised if (the opposition) mounted another petition drive.”
© Copyright: Salina

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