Girl with asthma hopes city councilors work to clear the air in Sioux Falls

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - City health officials were disappointed last week when the Sioux Falls city council passed a watered-down version of an outdoor smoking ban that didn't actually include a ban.
6 councilors voted in favor of the policy already held by the parks department.
It restricts tobacco use near playgrounds and other children's sports venues.
But health care officials aren't the only people hoping to someday snuff out the smoke.
All of the Nesdahl girls have asthma.
And this summer an incident at a city park literally took one of the sister's breath away.
The family is hoping the city can find some common ground that can make air safer for them to breathe and still respect tobacco users' choice to smoke, chew, or vape.
The Nesdahl sisters had a blast at Jazz Fest last summer, but the fun ended when 9 year-old Hannah had the worst asthma attack she's ever had.

“Hannah started to cough and all of the sudden she's saying I can’t breathe,” he mom Melissa explained.

“Wherever I looked I saw clouds of smoke all over and it just kind of scared me and I was like freaking out,” Hannah explained.

It was caused by second hand smoke.

“We don't believe anyone had any ill intent, but it's just that the second hand effects of cigarettes smoke can have an immediate impact on other people,” Melissa said.

Last week when the council voted on the outdoor tobacco ordinance, the family told their story during public comment. Hannah wasn't happy with the vote.

“Pretty disappointed, and pretty sad, and I was thinking and hoping that there could be we could talk about it more sometimes soon,” the 9 year-old said.

She's not the only one who feels that way.

“It was a little different than what we had hoped for,” Mary Michaels with the Sioux Falls Health Department admitted.

Officials with the city health department were hoping for the city wide outdoor tobacco ban to pass.

“Every time that there has been some sort of policy action there has been a corresponding decrease in that tobacco use rate,” Michaels said.

The American Cancer Society looks forward to continuing conversations with the council to look at restricting tobacco use.

“They've indicated maybe a set back from entry ways to different city owned properties, that certain properties would be smoke free, tobacco free completely,” ACS grass roots coordinator Carmyn Egge said.

As for the Nesdahl family, will they be back at Jazz Fest?

“Hopefully, hopefully, I want to go back,” Hannah exclaimed.

It depends if it's safe for the family.

“No smoke, that's the part,” Hannah said.

Councilor Christine Erickson offered the amendment to the ordinance last week.
She says since this was the first ever outdoor tobacco ordinance passed in Sioux Falls, she hoped to find common ground before passing a complete ban with citations. Councilor Erickson hopes to continue conversations about the new tobacco ordinance with the city council early next year.