Leaders in the Kansas capital city say it’s not OK to bare it all. The Topeka City Council has voted to ban public nudity. City Council members referenced an increased number of complaints about nudity recently. Councilman Jeff Coen pointed to an example on the busy shopping strip Wanamaker Road.
“I am a huge supporter of individual liberties, but jogging naked down Wanamaker disrupts the quality of life for the rest of us,” says Coen.
Webb Garlinghouse, who’s associated with a clothing-free camp outside Topeka, calls the ordinance “highly discriminatory.”
“There’s not a single law at any level of government that assures us that we will not be offended. We do have the right to turn our heads and not look,” says Garlinghouse.
The ban on nudity excludes breastfeeding mothers and children under five years old.
The Topeka City Council has also voted to ban e-cigarettes in all public places where normal cigarettes are already banned. The council heard from supporters of a ban, including Mary Jane Hellebust, a former director of the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition. She told commissioners that it still isn’t known if the vapors from e-cigarettes are safe.
“It is better if we keep these vapors out of the public places until we have decades, literally, of research to show that they are safe. Go back to the old maxim: better safe than sorry,” says Hellebust.
Councilman Jonathan Schumm voted against the ban. He said a better way to combat e-cigarettes is with public awareness and personal responsibility.
"I don’t see it as something where we’re going to do much more than go down a rabbit trail of trying to stay on top of whatever the new craze is to get that nicotine delivery,” says Schumm.
Several other Kansas communities also ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places.