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Smoking Crushed Out In Parks

October 21st, 2010 Posted in Tobacco ban Buy cheap cigarettes online Tags:

Smoking in Parks
The first reading of an ordinance banning smoking in all city parks and open space areas drew unanimous approval from the City Council Tuesday evening. However, Seventh District Councilman James Johnson expressed concern regarding noticing the public through signage about the ban once it is enacted.
The amendment to Chapter 8.68 of the Long Beach Municipal Code initially was proposed on July 6 — but at that point, City Council’s discussion centered around banning smoking in “small parks,” or parks 1 acre or less in size.
Following discussions during meetings of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission on July 22, Aug. 19, and Sept. 16, the commission adopted a motion by a unanimous vote to recommend to the City Council that smoking should be banned in all city parks.
Currently, more than 140 cities and counties in the state have implemented a complete or partial ban of smoking in their parks.
Brett Waterfield, president of the commission, said the commissioners’ discussion dealt more with the issue of which parks should be included in the ban, and not much was said about whether or not people’s right to smoke should be prohibited in general.
“As a department, we have a number of initiatives that support healthy living,” Waterfield said. “We’re a partner with the city in public safety, and we also should be a partner in public health.”
The commission also recommended that further study should be done on the feasibility of a smoking ban on the city’s five municipal golf courses. According to council documents, American Golf Corporation, which operates the city’s courses under a master lease, is opposed to such a ban. The Municipal Golf Commission, citing potential negative impacts to revenue and the lesser likelihood of secondhand smoke endangering youth of the courses, recommended that any ban should not include golf courses.
In addition, the commission has recommended that permitted activities, including filming and/or special events, should be exempted from a smoking ban. The city’s Office of Special Events and Filming stated that any ban would have potential negative impacts to its revenue.
Phil Hester, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Marine Department, said the approach to enforcing the ordinance would be self-policing. Once the amendments to the current smoking ordinance are adopted (if City Council votes to approve the commission’s recommendation after a final reading in November), Hester said temporary signage would be added in parks immediately.
“The estimated cost of signage (for all city parks) would be around $30,000,” Hester said. “So the ban may be enforced without the need to immediately post (permanent) signs throughout parks stating the violation.”
According to Section 8.68.190 of the Municipal Code, the violation for smoking in a restricted area is $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation within one year, and $500 for a third and for each subsequent violation thereafter within one year.
“In order to give someone a ticket (for smoking in a park), there would have to be a sign posted,” Johnson said.
The city’s Department of Health and Human Services administers the ordinance, and the city prosecutor may prosecute smoking violations in bars and other restricted areas after notification of a complaint. Police will continue to have the authority to cite offenders immediately if they witness a violation.
Department of Health and Human Services Director Ron Arias said that the first priority will be educating and informing the public.
“We’re looking for some sort of grant to assist Parks, Recreation and Marine to put up (permanent) signs,” Arias said.
Second District Councilwoman and Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, the author of the original recommendation to ban smoking in parks of a certain size, said she believed the ordinance supports the opinion of a majority of residents. Many spoke in favor of the ordinance Tuesday evening.

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