City officials are considering the possibility of banning smoking from the city’s parks.
Mayor Ann Thane has met with members of Project Action, an anti-tobacco coalition, who are on a mission to ban smoking from public parks throughout the state.
“I would say that’d be a great idea,” said Alderman Joseph Isabel, R-1st Ward. “Personally I didn’t think we allowed smoking at the city parks. You go there for recreation and I don’t think people should be smoking.”
The town of Niskayuna passed a local law last month banning smoking from town parks, the town pool and the section of the Mohawk Hudson Bike and Hike Trail that runs through the town.
Town Board member Maria Freund said the board got a lot of strong support from the community while considering the law.
Freund said the board was approached by teenagers about passing the law.
“Most of them were still in high school and that had a strong impact on me,” Freund said.
Niskayuna parks are now part of a growing list of outdoor places where smoking is banned, including most of the Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom, sections of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Clifton Park pools.
Thane’s administrative assistant, Carol DeJohn, said she received one complaint about smoking in the city’s parks on Friday. She said a man called asking the mayor to ban smoking in the city’s parks because children are around and could potentially pick up the cigarette butts.
Recreation Director Robert Spagnola said smoking is allowed at all of the picnic areas of the city’s parks, but is banned at the Mohawk’s baseball field and at the Little League fields.
Spagnola said he hasn’t experienced a problem with litter from cigarette butts and has not heard any complaints about smoking at the parks.
“It might be a good idea, but it’s something that I’ll have to look into,” Spagnola said about the potential ban.
Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis said the ban is something that the city could legally do.
He said the law could be enforced through complaints to the Police Department.
In Niskayuna, Freund said she views the law as self-enforcing. The town has put up no-smoking signs and advertised that the parks are a smoke-free zone.
“We really don’t have a huge problem with people smoking at the parks and if you are going to the park to exercise, or the pool to swim, chances are you’re not smoking anyway,” Freund said.
Alderman William Wills, D-4th Ward, said he doesn’t think it would be a good idea to ban smoking in the city’s parks. He said while banning smoking in an enclosed area is a good idea, banning smoking outside is going too far.
“As much as I detest smoking, period, it is a wide open expanded area,” Wills said. “They’ll get the message that smoking isn’t good for them and I think we’re pushing too much.”
Wills said he would support a measure banning smoking at certain large gathering events such as for the Symphony Orchestra on the Fourth of July.
“We could say that smoking isn’t allowed during this event,” he said.