Students seek citywide smoking policy

Fortuna High School seniors Ariel Card (right) and Melanie Luster spoke to the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce about their proposal to establish a smoking policy in the Friendly City.
Fortuna High School seniors Ariel Card (right) and Melanie Luster spoke to the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce about their proposal to establish a smoking policy in the Friendly City. MARY BULLWINKEL — FOR THE BEACON

Two Fortuna Union High School seniors are pushing for a citywide policy regulating smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Ariel Card and friend Melanie Luster are the two students, and they gave a presentation to the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce at the weekly luncheon on Monday.

There is currently no policy in Fortuna that regulates smoking near business entryways, at outdoor events, or in outdoor recreation areas such as sports fields and parks. Card and Luster plan to approach the Fortuna City Council to encourage that such a policy be put into place. “Our goal is for the City Council to be proactive and pass it (a smoking policy),” Card said.

Card said she and Luster did a lot of research about second hand smoke and in particular, e-cigarettes. She said the use of e-cigarettes has is on the increase and she has seen middle school students using them.

Their research showed there is not a lot of regulation on e-cigarettes. “E-cigs can be just as dangerous to the lungs as regular smoking,” Card said. She pointed out that e-cigarettes are actually an aerosol that contains the chemical Diethylene Glycol, the same ingredient used in antifreeze. And she said they also contain other cancer causing chemicals.

Several employees of businesses in Fortuna expressed support for a policy that would restrict where cigarette smoking could occur, saying they were subject to second hand smoke drifting into a business from someone smoking nearby.

If such a smoking policy is implemented, local businesses would be given signs to post in their windows prohibiting smoking from a certain distance from their buildings.

Another suggestion was made to not just restrict where smoking cannot occur, but to have certain designated areas where smoking is permitted.

Card and Luster choose the smoking policy issue as their “Change the World” senior project. For the past several years, all seniors at Fortuna Union high School are required to complete a Change the World project according to program coordinator and English teacher Amy Conley.

“The students pursue projects based on their passions,” Conley said. “They are doing amazing things,” Conley added, “like mentoring elementary students, making trails, and writing legislation (to name but a few).”

184 Change the World projects are underway at Fortuna Union high School, and the public is invited to learn more about them at a presentation scheduled for May 19 at the Multi-Generational Center in Fortuna. The presentations will take place from 3-8 p.m. and will be done in a similar way to how the Humboldt Count Science Fair presentations are made.

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