The Meridian city council voted unanimously last night to ban smoking in the city’s parks. Previously, the city had banned smoking in areas where “no smoking” signs are posted. The Central District Health Department (CDHD) had been working with Meridian to expand their ban to public parks after winning a grant to work with cities to create smoke-free parks. The CDHD is currently working with Boise, McCall, Donnelly and Cascade to expand smoking bans to parks. Previously, the cities of Emmett, Ammon, Hayden and Rexburg adopted smoking bans in their public parks. Boise is also working to ban smoking in youth sports complexes, such as skate parks, pools, BMX tracks, and more.
The idea may seem restrictive, but given that parks are generally places where people, especially families with young children, are encouraged to enjoy healthy activities, the smoking ban makes sense. The risks of secondhand smoke are not clearly defined; however, most experts agree that the risk is significant. Non-smokers who are around smokers also take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 60 of the 4,000 compounds in secondhand smoke are known or suspected carcinogens. When families head out for a day at the park to get some exercise or have a picnic, the last thing they account for is risking their health by inhaling secondhand smoke. In addition to the dangers of secondhand smoke, dirty cigarette butts dropped on the grass or near play equipment can be hazardous to curious children. It may also discourage youth from smoking.
The majority of park users welcomed the ban. The CDHD and the city of Meridian conducted polls before putting the resolution to a vote before the city council, and the results showed that more than 60 percent of the park users would support the ban.
Parking lots are excluded from the ban, which goes into effect as soon as the parks have “no smoking” signs in place. The fine for violating the law will be $50. It is expected that the law will be mostly self-enforced.
If you are a smoker and would like to quit, the CDHD offers free smoking cessation classes. Click on this link for more information on the CDHD’s Tobacco Cessation class.
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