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Boston Expected To Ban Smoking In Parks

By Expert Author: Bernard Fowler

Gilbert Farley, the self-appointed town apparitor of Boston Common, had just stamped out his half-smoked cigarette, carefully keeping it for later, when he learned the City Council had voted to prohibit smoking in public parks. He was worried to find out that when the ordinance takes effect in several weeks, lighting up on the Common could cost him $250.

Farley, 57, who is smoker, said that he is agianst smoking ban. “Who gives them the right to tell us what to do when we’re outside like this?” “The wind blows the smoke away. It shouldn’t bother anyone.”
City authorities, in their turn, said the ordinance, which passed consistently last week and is expected to be signed soon by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, would lower the damaging effects of secondhand smoke, curb litter, and help pressure smokers to quit smoking.

The ordinance is going to prohibit not only smoking of cigarettes, but also marijuana, and other lighted or vaporized substances in 251 squares, parks, cemeteries and other open spaces run by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.

According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, a California group that tracks the legislation, similar ordinances are into action in such big cities as San Francisco, New York and nearly 900 other municipalities around the country, including 20 in Massachusetts. Before it comes into action, the ordinance will have to pass a vote by the city parks commission, which is expected to approve the measure in December.

“We have been trying to reduce the amount of smoking in our parks, which has spiked since hospitals, colleges and many private buildings and other institutions have prohibited it on their property,” said Antonia M. Pollak, commissioner of the Parks and Recreation Department. Also she added that her staff has reported an increase of cigarette butts discarded in parks. “It’s the unintended consequences that smokers are migrating to the parks.”

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