Light up or vape at Jacksonville’s parks, and you could soon be fined

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is a plan in the works to ban smoking in Jacksonville’s parks. Light up or vape and you could pay a fine or even go to jail. It’s not a rule yet, but it’s something the city council is considering.

The councilman proposing the plan says parks belong to all of us. And believes smoking even vaping is making them hazardous.

At James Weldon Johns Park downtown, we talked with smokers like Bertram Alford and James Smith.

“I mean we go outside, that smoke goes up, so we understand the side of building but outside and smoke goes up so who is affected?” Alford said.

“I think that would lead to a protest. We will protest that law,” Smith said.

But, at Memorial Park in Riverside, we talked with Janice Parks who is a non-smoker.

“I think it would be a good idea. And I’ve actually seen people come through here smoking marijuana,” Parks said.

City councilman, Keven Carrico, is introducing legislation that basically makes it illegal to smoke or vape anything in any city park -- whether there is a sign posting the ban or not.

“Our parks are a safe haven for our youth for our families and smoking is kind of a quality-of-life issue. You know, it’s your choice to smoke. But it’s also your choice to try to resist, you know, exposing other people that don’t make that decision,” Carrico said.

If approved by the council smoking in city parks would be a class A offense. That could carry a fine of $25 or you could spend up to 10 days in jail, or both.

This is just in the beginning stages. The procedure and plans for enforcement would have to be worked out. The parks director supports the bill. Some have asked why not designate smoking areas at parks, Councilman Carrico does not see that happening.

“I think a ban is a ban. I think if people want to smoke they should probably smoke on private property and not do it in city park,” he said.

Again this is just being introduced. There will be public hearings and more than likely much debate before it could become law.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.