Kennesaw, GA Bans Smoking in Parks [11/23-3]

Excerpts from: Kennesaw bans smoking in parks

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In an effort to shield children from secondhand smoke, the Kennesaw City Council passed a measure this week to ban smoking in city parks, making it only the second city in the state to make smoking illegal in such public spaces. Douglasville became the first in July after years of a no-tobacco policy at its ball fields.

Though other cities in Georgia have approved ordinances that restrict smoking indoors, the Douglasville and Kennesaw ordinances are the first known to ban smoking outdoors.

"The significance of it is just the growing awareness that folks have about the health hazards associated with secondhand smoke," said Andy Lord, public policy manager for the American Cancer Society of Georgia. "There's a growing trend towards a smoke-free air policy driven by the increasing number of nonsmokers."

Georgia enacted a widespread smoking ban in July, outlawing smoking in most enclosed public places and work sites. Smoking is allowed in bars and restaurants only if they have separately ventilated rooms or if they don't admit or hire anyone under 18.

Some municipal ordinances are more restrictive. Athens, for instance, bans smoking in restaurants and bars. Some ordinances around the state include bans on smoking on outdoor patios, and some work places have banned smoking on their campuses, Lord said. There are now 25 cities and counties in Georgia that have passed smoking bans, he added.

More than 1,600 U.S. municipalities have some type of smoking ban, according to the American Cancer Society of Georgia. And "there are more and more cities that have looked into" outdoor smoking bans, said Bronson Frick, associate director of the nonprofit Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. In California, smoke-free beaches and tot lots are common, he added.

There's been a surge in the number of laws that protect everyone from secondhand smoke in workplaces and public spaces, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The Kennesaw City Council approved the smoking ban unanimously at its Monday meeting. It becomes official once Mayor Leonard Church signs it, which he plans to do next week when he gets back to town. The goal is to protect kids from secondhand smoke, Church said Tuesday in a phone interview.

The Kennesaw ordinance will go into effect in February, when signs will be up at the city's 14 parks.

The ordinance prohibits people from selling, consuming or smoking tobacco products in city parks, except in designated areas. Parking lots will be among the designated areas, and others may be added, said Doug Taylor, Kennesaw's director of parks and recreation.

The Kennesaw ban grew out of citizens' concerns that children were being exposed to secondhand smoke at parks where they play sports, Taylor said. "I feel like it's an ordinance that is just keeping with what the Georgia Legislature passed," said Kennesaw attorney Fred Bentley Jr. "There will be places provided for smoking."

The Douglasville ban is more restrictive, forbidding smoking in all park property. "We want to promote a healthy lifestyle and set a good example for the children," said Kevin Teate, Douglasville's deputy director of parks and recreation.

"Hopefully, other folks will follow our lead," he said.


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