The City Council took the first step towards banning smoking in public parks in the city last week when City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina and City Councilor At-Large Felix G. Arroyo introduced a hearing order to investigate and propose policies to limit or restrict smoking in public parks and greenways.
“As a youth baseball coach, I spend a lot of time during the spring and summer months at our city’s parks,” Arroyo said. “We must make sure that our parks are safe and healthy places for all of our city’s residents, including children, families and seniors.”
According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, more than 400 communities in the U.S. have adopted policies for smoke-free parks in order to promote healthy, safe, vibrant communities. Included in those municipalities that have full prohibitions on smoking in public parks are New York City and Raleigh, N.C.
“Exposure to cigarette smoking has profound effects on the health of Boston residents,” said Davida Andelman of Health Resources in Action. “The public should not be exposed to someone’s cigarette smoke in major public areas, and we applaud the efforts to eliminate smoking from our public parks.”
U.S. Surgeon General’s reports released in 2006 (www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/) and 2010 (www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/tobaccosmoke/factsheet.html) confirm the well-established science that secondhand smoke is a cause of serious disease, including lung cancer, heart disease, heart attacks, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, asthma and other respiratory ailments.
The 2006 report concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and the 2010 report concluded that even small amounts of tobacco smoke in a short period of time can be harmful.
“What I would like to accomplish is a cleaner city where people stroll the parks and enjoy our beaches in a smoke-free environment,” LaMattina said. “Secondhand smoke is a public-health hazard that needs to be eliminated.”