Schenectady County

Smoking in all Schenectady parks outlawed by council vote

Smoking is now illegal in all of the city’s parks.

Smoking is now illegal in all of the city’s parks.

The City Council banned smoking in the parks after a short discussion in which members said they were not “legislating morality.”

Instead, they cited the deaths of smokers in their families as proof that the ban is needed.

“I understand that smoking is legal, and I do have concerns about enforcement,” said Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo. “I can see both sides, to some extent.” But, she said, the loss of family members who smoked outweighed those concerns.

Councilwoman Marion Porterfield added that residents will voluntarily follow the ban as well as they follow other park rules. It won’t be regularly enforced by police patrols.

“No one runs around enforcing the pooper scooper law,” she said.

Councilman Vince Riggi was the only member not to vote on the ban. He abstained on the grounds that he could not give an unbiased vote after watching a sister die from emphysema.

“I’d rather see smoking banned everywhere,” he said, to applause from the audience. “I am too emotionally attached to this issue. It’s an awful thing to watch someone gasping for breath.”

City workers will post signs announcing that smoking is not allowed on park grounds.

Only one person spoke against the ban Monday. Robert Sanders, who is running for City Council in the Democratic primary, said the council should spend more time on taxes and property values.

“That’s a genuine concern and we’re talking about smoking in a park,” he said. “What are you going to do next? What rights and liberties are you going to take away?”

He vowed to openly light a cigar in his neighborhood park so he could challenge the law in court. He would have to be ticketed to challenge the law.

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