City Proposal Would Ban Smoking In Parks

Proponents, Opponents Agree Law Would Be Tough To Enforce

JACKSONVILLE - A proposal by some of Jacksonville's city leaders may soon make it illegal for people to smoke in city parks.

Should there be smoking rules at Jacksonville parks?Yes, I don't want to smell smoke in the park.No, people should be able to smoke outdoors.I really don't care one way or the other. Eyewitness News' Jim Piggott reported that the legislation being drafted would ban smoking around playground equipment and near athletic fields.

Those behind the proposal said the goal is to keep people from smoking around children at parks. But the plan has stirred up the emotions of smokers.

"To do it in a public place out in the open, that's my freedom," Don Robbins said.

Piggott reported that the measure will be introduced by City Council President Matt Carlucci, who said a group of children asked him to help get the law on the books.

"I don't think it unreasonable to expect there to be smoke-free zones in the area around playground equipment where children are playing," Carlucci said.

Chrissy Beck is one of the students who made the suggestion. She is a member of SWAT or Students Working Against Tobacco.

"Banning in parks is mainly for the children, so they don't have to be around it (smoke), and to educate them that it is harmful to you and can affect your health," Beck said.

Smokers like Jacqueline Davis said she understands the concern because she has children of her own, but she said she believes the smoking ban is not the way to accomplish it.

"I would like to see it put before the vote of the people instead of just having the City Council tell me that I can't do what I want to in a park where the city taxes paid that to be built," Davis said.

Those on both sides of the issue admit that it will be difficult to enforce the smoking ban in parks. Piggott reported because there are no fines for the proposed ordinance, police won't be writing tickets for violating it.

The ban on park smoking could be introduced to the City Council in about two weeks. It would have to be approved by Mayor John Delaney and council members, none of whom have commented on it.

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