Alpharetta considers smoking ban in parks

Alpharetta is considering a tobacco ban at its six city parks and along its more than six miles of greenway trails.

And the City Council appears to be on board.

The city’s Recreation and Parks Commission originally proposed banning all tobacco use within 25 feet of organized activities, such as athletic events. But City Council members said at a work session Monday that a complete ban made more sense.

Mayor Arthur Letchas said that determining whether someone is 24 feet or 25 feet from a sporting event would simply be too hard to enforce.

“I don’t really see a problem in eliminating it in all our parks,” Letchas said. “With kids involved, I think we need to set an example.”

Currently, the parks department has posted “No-Smoking” signs at sites in the parks, but no official policy exists regulating tobacco on the premises.

Councilman Douglas DeRito, the Council’s liaison to the parks department, said smoking should be prohibited along the greenway for safety reasons.

“I’m more concerned about the danger of woods fires starting … people throwing a cigarette while they’re walking along the greenway,” he said. “On top of that, it should be a family environment.”

Alpharetta would join a growing number of cities prohibiting tobacco in public parks.

Roswell passed a smoking ban for its 18 municipal parks last summer, but it did not pass without debate.

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood said the ban would be a nightmare for park police, noting that out-of-town visitors would be unaware of the ordinance. Councilwoman Betty Price, a physician, objected to the ban saying the city was inserting itself into individual rights.

Marietta passed a tobacco ban for its 19 parks two years ago. Parks and Recreation Director Rich Buss said patrons seem to have accepted it without complaint.

During concerts at Glover Park, Buss said, he often sees patrons leave during intermission to light up outside the gates.

“We’ve not had citizens complain,” Buss said. “It’s basically a self-policing thing. We’re not receiving any complaints that people aren’t abiding by it.”

source: www.ajc.com

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