Long Beach, California - smoking ban in all parks coming soon..

September 21, 2010 - Long Beach is a city located in southern California, USA, on the Pacific coast. Long Beach is the 38th-largest city in the nation and the fifth-largest in California.

A city panel voted Thursday, September 16th to support a ban on smoking in all Long Beach parks, changing its previous decision. The Parks and Recreation Commission had voted 4-3 on Aug. 19 to recommend that the City Council ban smoking in parks of 1 acre or less in size. However, the issue was revisited Thursday, and the commission voted unanimously in favor of a ban in parks of all sizes.

Long Beach has 152 parks, 51 of which are less than a acre in size.

Members of the Coalition for a Smoke Free Long Beach, the American Cancer Society, and the city's Department of Health and Human Services were among those who spoke in favor of the ban Thursday.

The final decision rests with the city council - the vote will likely happen Oct. 5 or Oct. 12.

Phil Hester, director of Parks, Recreation and Marine, "It seemed like the right thing to do, especially when all of the other cities and counties, especially in California, are headed in the same direction." Hester said.

Many California cities, including Los Angeles, have banned smoking in parks. Long Beach already has banned smoking at beaches and inside businesses, including restaurants and bars.

On Wednesday, September 15th, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on outdoor smoking in parks, beaches, boardwalks, marinas and pedestrian plazas.

Not all anti-smoking attempts have been successful. In May, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, that would have banned smoking at all state beaches.

Long Beach was ahead of its time by banning indoor smoking in 1993 - a measure that was later forced onto the ballot and overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1994. Yet, that ban hasn't remained completely intact. In February 2009, the council voted to allow smoking lounges to operate in Long Beach.

Evan Braude, a former council member who had voted for the 1993 ban and spoke against legalizing smoking lounges, said Thursday that the Parks and Recreation Commission recommendation would get the city back on track. "I think we're going to turn around and start going forward again," Braude said. "This is a very positive development."

He encouraged the council to approve the park smoking ban. "I think we need to pay attention to the health of our children and residents and make sure we have a healthy society," Braude said.

Reference: Parks and Rec Commission votes to ban smoking in Long Beach parks by Paul Eakins (paul.eakins@presstelegram.com), Staff Writer, Press-Telegram, 9/16/2010.