February 4, 2011 - New York City lawmakers voted Feb. 2 to ban smoking outdoors in public parks, public beaches, and even Times Square. (New York City Council votes to ban smoking in parks, beaches and other outdoor public places..) The Big Apple is the latest major US city to prohibit smoking in parks and other public spaces, adopting laws that are tougher than its home state's. Such laws are a boon to public health and reduce litter in urban parks, say supporters.
In all, almost 500 cities, counties, and towns have banned smoking in public parks.
Here are five big cities that have done so:
The Chicago Park District, which manages Chicago’s parks and 26 miles of lakefront, banned smoking at beaches and playgrounds in 2007. Violators can be fined $500 if caught smoking in either of those venues. In part, the ban is intended to keep bacteria-bearing litter (i.e., cigarette butts) out of recreational waters so that swimming areas can remain open. The park district tests Lake Michigan water five times a week in summer and posts the results.
2. Los Angeles County
Smoking is prohibited at all parks in Los Angeles County, under a ban approved by the Board of Supervisors in September 2009. Exceptions are made for actors who are smoking during filming for a movie or during a theatrical production, and for models during a photo shoot – but only in consultation with a fire official and at the discretion of the park director.
Smoking may be permitted in contractor-operated facilities, such as county golf courses, in designated areas. Smoking is also banned from any part of a public beach, except the parking area, in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.
3. San Francisco
San Francisco bans smoking in public parks and, for that matter, in any public open space under the jurisdiction of a city department or the Recreation and Park Commission. When approved in 2004, the ban was one of the strictest to date. It applies to many public spaces: parks, squares, gardens, playing fields, piers, and farmers' markets. (Piers used for commercial purposes are not covered by the ban.)
Smoking is not allowed in playgrounds or "tot lot" sandbox areas, either, but that's by order of the California Health and Safety Code.
4. Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City, Utah's capital, bans smoking in its 126 parks and open spaces, covering nearly 2,000 acres.
According to city code, smokers in “city owned parks, public squares, ball diamonds, golf courses, soccer fields, and other recreation areas, Library Square, city owned cemeteries and trails” are included in the ban, but not areas specifically designated for smoking. Violators can be fined up to $25 but do not face the possibility of imprisonment.
5. Albuquerque, N.M.
In June 2007, then-Mayor Martin Chavez issued an executive order banning smoking on city property – including transit stops and parks. The order didn’t go through the city council or state legislature, though. Instead, the mayor asked citizens not to smoke in city parks, and he urged citizens and police officers to enforce the ban by confronting violators. The Albuquerque City Council opposed the executive order, calling it “unenforceable.”
According to the Albuquerque Open Space Program website, the ban applies to all city property except golf courses and sidewalks.
Reference: Which US cities ban smoking in public parks? Here are five, Leigh Montgomery, Staff writer, Geoff Johnson, Contributor, Christian Science Monitor, 2/3/2011.