Alex Wan, the lone gay on Atlanta City Council, really doesn’t want you smoking inside city parks. Now, thanks in part to his efforts, lighting up will cost you up to $1,000 in fines, six months in jail or community service.
So yes, flag-waving Atlanta Pride-goers. Your smokes have been snuffed out.
“I think it’s reasonable to ask our park visitors to abstain from smoking to protect the health of everyone who enjoys our public parks,” Wan said in a prepared statement on Monday after the City Council approved the ban 11 to 1.
“It’s been proven that there’s no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It causes numerous health problems including severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections and other ailments,” Wan added.
Wan and council colleague Joyce Sheperd pushed through a smoking ban in a matter of weeks that Mayor Kasim Reed is expected to sign. Then it’ll be a city ordinance enforced by Atlanta police.
Here’s what the ordinance does:
Atlanta’s ordinance makes it unlawful for any person to smoke in outdoor parks and recreational facilities located within the City of Atlanta, including but not limited to, the parks, athletic fields, aquatic areas, golf courses, tennis courts, hiking/walking/biking trails, playgrounds, off-leash areas and spectator and concession areas.
The legislation does not apply to any of the following city-owned properties so long as the properties remain the subject of a lease with a private party: The Chastain Amphitheater, Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood and the Park Tavern Restaurant located at Piedmont Park and designated smoking areas at golf club amenities.
The smoking ban went public less than three weeks ago, sailed through Sheperd’s Development & Human Resources Committee last week and hit the full Council for a vote on Monday.
The measure has kicked up some smoke from irate Libertarians who want city government to butt out; people concerned about a ban on smoking at large LGBT events held inside city parks, including Atlanta Pride and AIDS Walk Atlanta; and party gays who are more interested in a ban on smoking in bars before eliminating smokes in parks.
Only Council member Howard Shook, who represents portions of Buckhead, objected during Monday’s vote. He also delivered one of the better quips from the debate to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I am concerned about turning our city code into a guide for preferred manners and lifestyle tips,” Shook said.
And yes, you don’t have to inhale to get nabbed under the new ordinance. Even lighting up is prohibited.