Keeping cigarettes from the playground
The California Legislature passed a bill last month prohibiting smoking in all public playgrounds and “tot lot sandboxes.”
AB 188 is aimed at protecting children in public playgrounds from exposure to secondhand smoke.
In accordance with the law, effective Jan. 1, 2002, a person may not smoke a cigarette, cigar, pipe or other tobacco-related product within the boundaries of any playground or toddler park. Disposing of cigarette butts or tobacco-related waste within a playground area also will be against the law. Persons intending to intimidate or threaten a person who complies with the law will be acting illegally. Violations will be punishable by a $100 fine.
South Shore parks affected by the new law include Tahoe Paradise Park, Bijou Community Park, the park at Regan Beach and the Recreation Center, South Lake Tahoe Parks Superintendent Steve Weiss said.
Weiss said enforcement of the law will be difficult but he supports the idea behind it.
Modeled after a San Diego ordinance, the law is intended to keep people from smoking within enclosed playground areas. However, it may not make much of a difference at South Shore, in that most playgrounds are bordered with low wooden boundaries, rather than tall fences. This means secondhand smoke could blow from outside playground boundaries, into the area where children are playing.
“Someone could be standing a foot outside the play area and be smoking,” Weiss said. “So as far as enforcement goes, that would be difficult, to say the least.”
Bob Swain, youth and teen supervisor at the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center, said he hopes the law will deter people from smoking where children play.
“As far as the theory of it all, I think it’s good,” Swain said. “Just yesterday I had one of my summer camp kids come to me and say, ‘Hey Bob, look what I just found in the gymnasium,’ and he handed me four cigarette butts.”
The cigarette butts likely were left over from a private party, and smoking seldom occurs outdoors near the playground, Swain said.
“I do not see much smoking out there,” he said. “I think we’re fortunate in South Lake Tahoe because a lot of people who live here are fairly health-oriented so you don’t see a lot of smoking. But it’s nice to have a tool to enforce (a no smoking policy) if you have to. People don’t understand secondhand smoke as far as how it travels.”
Assemblyman Juan Vargas, D- San Diego, authored AB 188.
District 4 Assemblyman Tim Leslie voted against the bill, as did District 1 Sen. Rico Oller. Their reasons for objecting to the ban was not available Legislative text.
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