Councilmember Sandy Sheedy sits in Cesar Chavez Park in downtown Sacramento and is pleased to see that of the few people there, none are smoking:
That’s NOT what she saw when she hosted a jazz festival at Woodlake Park in her own district recently:
People were enjoying the evening and the music, and all of a sudden a lady lit up a cigarette. Then I started noticing that people were sort of moving away, and I thought, all of a sudden, there’s a threat, and that threat was secondhand smoke.
That incident prompted Sheedy to author a proposed ordinance to ban smoking in all city parks.
Park goers at Cesar Chavez expressed a variety of opinions about that ordinance:
I think it’d be great to ban smoking in public places. It really bothers me to have to breathe somebody’s smoke that is upwind of me. I just don’t like it at all.
I don’t think it’s right because, I mean, it doesn’t have no walls out here, so it just evaporates into the air. I think it’s pretty far too much, so that’s my opinion, so, I’m not even a smoker.
I could see both ways definitely. I have children, so I could see if someone’s sitting next to me, I wouldn’t want them smoking, but at the same time, it’s their right…so…..
There is little published research on secondhand smoke and its implications outdoors. But in January of last year, the state Air Resources Board, which only deals with outdoor issues, declared second hand smoke a Toxic Air Contaminant. It’s currently doing more research on the subject.
Councilmember Sheedy says she understands why:
It has 250 chemicals in secondhand smoke. And some of them are ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, and my favorite, is hydrogen cyanide. Now any one of those I wouldn’t want to breathe in.
But members of a California smokers’ rights group say Sacramento is going too far.
Robert Best, with Smokers’ Club, says the proposed ordinance discriminates against smokers:
We pay tax dollars to finance these parks, and now the city council is telling us we are no longer wanted at these parks.
Best says Sheedy is more concerned about bringing in revenue for city, with her proposed fines of 100 to 250 dollars for violating the ordinance:
It’s just a money grab by politicians. They can run around fining people for smoking in a park. It gives the police department extra work when they should be dealing with more serious crimes. And allows the city to make a little extra cash.
The council will take public comment on the matter at its meeting tomorrow night at 7 o’ clock.
Sheedy says she hopes council members will then vote in favor of the ordinance:
We’re very progressive and we care about our people. We want our citizens to live in a safe environment. We want them to enjoy life, as long as they can enjoy it.
Eleven other cities, including San Francisco, have similar smoking bans.