If you are one of those golfers at Chastain Park or the Bobby Jones Golf Course who might light up a cigarette or take a puff on a cigar while waiting for the group ahead to take their shots and move out of range, enjoy it while you can, it might not last long.
|The Bobby Jones Golf Course in south Buckhead|
Or maybe you enjoy a smoke while watching the youth leagues play at one of Buckhead’s Little League parks or are prone to light up while relaxing on a bench in Tanyard Creek or Memorial parks with your dog. Those days may go up in smoke very soon.
Smoking could soon be banned at Chastain Park, the Bobby Jones Golf Course and just about every other recreational area or public park in Buckhead if City Council approves legislation now before it. Oh, and Mayor Kasim Reed says he would approve it.
Dist. 6 City Councilman Alex Wan, who now represents a section of southeast Buckhead after the recent redistricting, and Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd are co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit puffing on cigarettes, cigars or pipes in “city parks, athletic fields, aquatic areas, golf courses, tennis courses, hiking/walking/biking trails, playgrounds, off-leash areas, and spectator and concession areas.”
Shepherd chairs the council's Community Development and Human Resources Committee and it will discuss the legislation at its next meeting on Tuesday.
The proposed ban in Atlanta would follow similar moves by Alpharetta, Roswell, Duluth and Clayton County, among other local jurisdictions.
The legislation was written for penalties to be consistent with other park violations such as not cleaning up after a dog defecates in the park. Depending on a judge’s ruling, such penalties can range up to a $1,000 fine, six days in jail plus public service.
The Atlanta Police Department would be responsible for issuing citations, but Wan doesn’t see police enforcement becoming the real deterrent so much as neighbors and park-goers self-policing one another.
The rules would affect hundreds of thousands of people who come to Atlanta's parks from intown or the suburbs for concerts and shows, such as those at the Chastain Amphitheater. Piedmont Park alone attracts 3 million visits per year, according to a March 2007 study.
According to an article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Councilwoman Sheperd said it took a while for the Parks Department to convince her that a ban is a good idea. But a couple of incidents — adults lighting up near children at a splash pad in her district, and widespread smoking during the Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park over Memorial Day — changed her mind.
"I'm a park person, and I've seen incident after incident where people were smoking all over the place and not being very respectful," she said. "I'm amazed that people will smoke around children and not think twice about it."
"I think, generally, there will be support" from the community, George Dusenbury, commissioner of the city's Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, told the AJC. "People see parks as places where kids should run free."
Wan, whose City Council district also includes Morningside and Virginia-Highland, told the AJC the goal is to increase green space and encourage active lifestyles. Smoking runs counter to that, especially in kid-centric areas like the skate park in the Historic Fourth Ward Park, he said.
In June, North American Properties and CBRE Global Investors announced that they would begin enforcing a smoking ban in public areas of Atlantic Station, its mixed-use development located on 17th Street in Midtown.
Smoking is no longer permitted in Atlantic Station’s common areas, including the Central Park green space and sidewalks. Non-smoking policies may vary for restaurants with al fresco dining areas. Designated smoking areas have been placed around the perimeter of the property in order to continue accommodating all guests.