Note: For your comments to be considered for publication on this blog you MUST provide your full name. Pseudonyms and first names only are not acceptable. Thank you.
More stories affirming that smoke-free outdoor air is a good thing too! And contrary to the naysayers, it can be a significant source of air pollution, irritation, annoyance, and for hyper-sensitive individuals, including those with with asthma exacerbated by SHS exposure, a serious risk to health.
In line with Missouri GASP’s third stated goal:
Smoking should be between consenting adults in private,
and only when it harms no one else but the smokers.
BY MARGARET GILLERMAN firstname.lastname@example.org 314-725-6758 | Posted: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 12:00 am | (32) Comments
MIAMI – JUNE 22: Dorothy Baker smokes one of the Newport cigarettes she purchased at the Quick Stop store on June 22, 2010 in Miami, Florida. Today the Food and Drug Administration law banning the use of terms “light,” “mild” and “low” tar goes into affect in the marketing and sale of cigarettes. The new boxes have replaced those terms with lighter-colored packaging for light brands and switched to terms such as “gold” and “silver” to replace “light” and “ultra-light”. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
CLAYTON • Clayton is once again ahead of the pack on a smoking ban, becoming the first in the St. Louis area and one of the first in the state to enact an ordinance banning smoking throughout its park system.
While new here, about 400 cities across the country already have such bans, says Patty DeForrest, Clayton director of parks and recreation.
Clayton Mayor Linda Goldstein, who led the effort last year for a ban on smoking in most public buildings, said that many residents wanted to go further than that ban.
“Not only have I received no complaints or criticism from any residents,” Goldstein said in an interview, “I have had several parents tell me how happy they are that their children can enjoy a healthy afternoon at a playground breathing fresh, smoke-free air.
The ban on smoking in most public buildings went into effect July 1. The parks ban goes into effect Jan. 1.
It will bar lighting up in city-owned parks, on playgrounds and all other city-owned or leased facilities. That includes city-owned parking garages and lots.
The law will allow smoking on sidewalks, streets and alleys. Outdoor smoking is also allowed at privately owned restaurants or bars but not indoors.
On some recent visits to Shaw Park, the largest and busiest of Clayton’s 10 parks, no smokers could be found. One person eating her lunch said she smoked but had rarely seen other smokers lighting up in the park. The woman, who did not want to be identified, said that smokers typically stayed in their cars and smoked in the parking lot — “maybe to protect the children,” she said.
Several nonsmoking park visitors welcomed the ban.
Mike and Renee Solverud of St. Charles, who were picnicking Friday at Shaw Park with their daughters, 2 and 4, said a ban in the parks would be good for the children’s sake. Mike Solverud’s grandmother and grandfather both developed emphysema about 20 years after they had stopped smoking. His grandmother died of it.
“People can smoke in their own house or car,” he said. “I’ve seen the results of smoking. It’s not good for the public health.”
One afternoon, members of the Clayton High School’s cross country team stretched and warmed up in the park.
Bianca Vannucci, 16, a junior at Clayton High, said she knew that some students smoked in the park — but no one on the cross country team. She likes the ban.
“The principle is good,” Bianca said. “A park is definitely not the place to smoke. Plus a lot of kids are on the playgrounds.”
The ban is not without critics. Bill Hannegan, a longtime opponent of local government-imposed smoking bans in bars and restaurants, said Clayton is more concerned with its public image than public health.
“It’s more like a societal vendetta against smoking,” he said. “It’s very hard to get these lawmakers to talk about public health. A lot of the time it’s about personal reasons, like, ‘yeah, my dad died of cancer.'”
Hannegan said the public’s exposure to second-hand smoke in open spaces like parks and parking garages is so minimal, it has no impact on public health. He cautioned that Clayton might be increasing the public risk of second-hand smoke exposure by forcing smokers onto heavily traveled sidewalks.
“I grew up in Clayton and it’s hard for me imagine not being able to light a smoke anyplace in Shaw Park,” he said. “It seems authoritarian.”
Alderman Alex Berger III has led the push to go smoke-free on all city property, including parks, both last year and this year.
“The essence of it is health and safety,” he said.
Berger also said that it made no sense to teach children the dangers of smoking at school and then allow adults to smoke while coaching the children at the park.
The citizens Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the new ban, and a survey of Clayton residents was heavily in favor of it.
Among other cities in Missouri, Kirksville’s strong ordinance bans smoking on all city property including parks. Liberty’s smoke free ordinance bans smoking in parks except on the parking lots. Lee’s Summit, a suburb of Kansas City, recently adopted a policy banning smoking within 50 feet of ball fields and many parks facilities. Ballwin, among others, has signs posted asking people to refrain from smoking. And Columbia’s ban extends to the area around park buildings but not the entire park.
After Clayton enacted its indoor smoking ban ordinance last summer, St. Louis County, the city of St. Louis, Kirkwood, Brentwood and Lake Saint Louis all enacted bans of varying degrees.
Hannegan said he suspects Clayton’s crackdown on open spaces will lead to stricter anti-smoking ordinances in other cities.
Nancy Cambria of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this story.