A proposed ban on smoking at county parks and certain other outdoor venues — including parking lots, walkways and patios at county buildings — is a smart move that we wholeheartedly support.
Far from being an attack on personal freedom, this will help protect the right of nonsmokers to enjoy the outdoors without being bothered by smelly, harmful tobacco smoke.
It also is a step toward a uniform, countywide policy on public smoking at parks, beaches and other outdoor recreation areas.
Several local cities already have enacted bans at parks and beaches, and the county ban will strengthen the message that public recreation areas are smoke-free zones.
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Added benefits: It should reduce smoking-related litter at parks and could help prevent brush fires — something we should be especially mindful of now, given the many wildfires raging in the West.
Opponents of the ordinance accuse the county of, once again, stepping in and imposing needless regulations.
Nonsense. If anything, the ordinance is on the tepid side.
For example, smokers who do light up illegally will simply be asked to put out their cigarettes, though a refusal to do so could, theoretically, result in a citation.
Also, county staff “will not spend time searching for people smoking,” the staff report says. “Rather, those who are offended by cigarette smoke are encouraged to politely address nearby smokers directly,” though the report adds that “offended parties” could also take their complaints to county staff.
On top of that, smoking will not be banned at all of the county’s outdoor venues. At the county’s large, regional parks, for example, smoking will be allowed at campsites, though banned within 30 feet of any building, playground or group picnic area. It also will be OK to smoke on county golf courses.
A clause in the ordinance allows the county health director to make other exceptions as well; it’s already anticipated that there would be smoking areas set aside at county airports and at the county Psychiatric Health Facility.
Does that sound like aheavy-handed nanny state that’s “picking” on smokers? Hardly. It sounds more like agovernment that’s trying hard to forge a compromise that will protect the right of smokers to enjoy clean air, without unduly penalizing smokers. For that, we commend county staff and strongly urge the Board of Supervisors to approve the ordinance on July 17.
Editorials are the opinion of The Tribune.