Legislators in San Francisco city voted to ban smoking in public parks on Tuesday, becoming the first major American city to embrace such an expansive ban on tobacco use.
“This is the first one that includes all the parks and recreational centers in a county,” said Michela Alioto-Pier, a city legislator who sponsored the proposed ban. It needs the approval of Mayor Gavin Newsom to become law.Several smaller California cities have already prohibited smoking in city parks, including Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, as well as the central Californian city of Fresno. A few cities outside California have limited smoking bans in local parks.”It is a danger to our small children and not a particularly good example for them either,” Alioto-Pier said in an interview. Parks are “an area unfortunately where there is a lot of litter and cigarette butts make up four times as much litter as any thing else out there. It is a detriment to the environment. It takes 10-12 years for a cigarette butt to biodegrade, and the toxins go into the ground water.”State legislators are also considering banning smoking along California’s fabled beaches, although Los Angeles and other areas have already barred smoking at piers and beaches.The city legislature voted 8-3 to approve the ban.Banning smoking in parks still falls short of a new prohibition in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which last month banned smoking everywhere in public.Asked if San Francisco might one day move in that direction, Alioto-Pier said: “I think that if any city in the country is a city to ban smoking on sidewalks and stoops it would probably be San Francisco, but we will just have to wait and see.”(Source: Reuters Health, January 2005)