The Atlanta City Council approved an ordinance Monday prohibiting smoking in city parks. The measure, which was sponsored by City Councilmembers Joyce M. Sheperd and Alex Wan, was approved on substitute by a vote of 11-1.

“I’m particularly concerned about the children who are most vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke,” said Councilmember Sheperd. “They have little control over their outdoor environments. We must remember that city-owned parks are intended for use by the public, including persons of all ages and the environment should be healthy for all to enjoy.”

Councilmember Wan agreed. “I think it’s reasonable to ask our park visitors to abstain from smoking to protect the health of everyone who enjoys our public parks. It’s been proven that there’s no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It causes numerous health problems including severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections and other ailments.”

General penalties under the City of Atlanta’s Code of Ordinances would apply for violating the new ordinance, with a maximum fine of up to $1,000. Signage will be installed in all city parks.

Atlanta’s ordinance makes it unlawful for any person to smoke in outdoor parks and recreational facilities located within the City of Atlanta, including but not limited to, the parks, athletic fields, aquatic areas, golf courses, tennis courts, hiking/walking/biking trails, playgrounds, off-leash areas and spectator and concession areas.

The legislation does not apply to any of the following city-owned properties so long as the properties remain the subject of a lease with a private party: The Chastain Amphitheater, Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood and the Park Tavern Restaurant located at Piedmont Park and designated smoking areas at golf club amenities.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

One reply on “Atlanta City Council bans smoking in public parks”

  1. I cannot count how many times I have picked out a spot at a festival, spread out a blanket, sat down with friends, unpacked a picnic basket, only to get up and move right away because I have inadvertently ‘camped’ next to a cigarette smoker.

    I had taken to asking people if they smoked before picking a spot, only to have some people react as if I were invading their privacy. And I don’t blame them. I should not have to ask.

    Cigarette smoke makes me absolutely ill. I have a headache for hours if it wafts my way. If I inhale too much of it, it makes me nauseated.

    I am not a prude or a religious nut. This is not about morality, but health. I do not care what you do in your own personal space, but you have no right to pollute my air and make me sick. I could not be happier about this!!!

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