Smoking ban in Atlanta parks needs mayor's signature - CBS46 News

Smoking ban in Atlanta parks needs mayor's signature

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An ordinance that would ban smoking in city parks needs just one signature - the mayor's - before it takes effect.

In an 11-1 vote, the Atlanta City Council approved the measure Monday evening.

"It's about health," said Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, who co-sponsored the ordinance.

The smoking ban also includes city pools, playgrounds, tennis courts and athletic fields.

The crackdown would cut down on the dangers of second-hand smoke, Sheperd said.

"That's their right to smoke, absolutely," Sheperd said. "But if I'm inhaling it, my granddaughter is inhaling it, and children in the park. Then it's an issue," Sheperd said.

Opponents argued the ban is too intrusive and would waste police resources on petty violations.

"I would rather see people work things out themselves," said Councilman Howard Shook.

Ordinary citizens, courtesy and common sense are strong enough enforcers, Shook said.

"If you're at a kids T-ball game in the bleachers and you light up a cigarette, you're going to hear it from the people sitting next to you," Shook said.

People who frequently visit Piedmont Park in midtown Atlanta had mixed feelings about a ban on smoking in public parks.

Toryn Lankford supports the idea.

"You're here trying to get a workout in, and somebody blows a Camel in your face, it doesn't smell too good," he said.

"You're talking about children. You're talking about the elderly. You're talking about people in general," said his fiance Julia Minefield.

Fitness instructor Todd Hancock said he thinks smoking in general is a bad idea. But he believes that banning it in public parks is an assault on our personal freedoms.

"It's offensive to some people, but not everyone," Hancock said. "Some people could be offended by a steak dinner if they're a vegetarian."

Mayor Kasim Reed has said he supports a ban on smoking in public parks. The ordinance will go into effect as soon as he signs it.

Violators could face fines of up to $1,000 and community service or six months in jail.

Other cities that have banned smoking in public parks include Alpharetta, Decatur, Doraville, Douglasville, Duluth, Gainesville, Marietta and Roswell.

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