Foster City not blowing smoke about ban

Smokers may have to butt out of Foster City parks, if an idea being chewed on by the Parks and Recreation Committee comes to fruition.

The idea of a smoking ban was first suggested by committee member Jim Freshour last summer, after he attended a July 4 celebration at a park and people were smoking around him.

“I can’t stand to be around cigarette smoke, the smell of it just drives me nuts,” he said.

He brought it up at the following committee meeting and received interested from some other members, he said. The commission will be scheduling a public discussion on the issue at their next meeting March 5.

The Parks and Recreation Commission is only an advisory body, so the ultimate decision about a smoking ban would have to be made by the City Council.

Mayor Pam Frisella said she would “absolutely” support the ban and thinks the rest of the council will too — though she admitted being an occasional smoker herself.

“I have been known to smoke on occasion with a drink,” she said. “But to smoke at a park where there’s children, that should be a no-brainer.”

Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Miller said he, too, would support a ban. Once the department gets the word from the commission, he said, they’ll begin researching how other communities have implemented bans. He said there is already a rule prohibiting smoking within 100 feet of a playground, but believes a wider ban would be better, since the parks are intended to promote health.

A smoking ban might save the city money as well, Miller said, because it now spends resources cleaning up cigarette butts from its parks.

Foster City is not alone in thinking about getting tougher on smokers. At least eight other California cities ban smoking in parks and playgrounds, and a recently introduced bill in the state Legislature would ban smoking at California state parks and beaches.

Last year, Belmont passed a controversial smoking ordinance banning smoking not only in parks, but in all indoor and outdoor workplaces, as well as in homes and apartments that share floors or ceilings with other units.

kworth@examiner.com

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