VIDEO: Will Dallas Follow Other Cities by Issuing a Smoking Ban in Public Parks?

May 11, 2011  

Video and editing by Meredith Carlton
mcarlton@smu.edu

For decades, smoking has been a controversial issue and the subject of a number of laws throughout the country.

In Texas, smoking has been prohibited in a number of places since 1997 from elevators to hospitals. But in 2008, Dallas County passed their own set of smoking bans extending them into all enclosed workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

After the new mayoral election on May 14, Dallas County could see a new smoking ban in place for public parks.

“A park is by definition a public place,” Joe Kobylka, SMU political science professor, said. “You have a right to be in a park and you don’t have to be licensed to be in a park…so it’s a different kettle of fish.”

Although this ban might seem strange to residents of Dallas, a number of other cities have issued the bans in parks. Raleigh, North Carolina and New York City are just two cities in the United States that passed the measure.

However, smokers in Dallas are not fond of the possibility.

“I’d probably smoke anyways,” Daniel Garza, Dallas resident, said. “I don’t think that (the bans) would stop people from smoking, it would just make controversy.”

If the new Mayor of Dallas does try to implement the ban, officials said it would be hard to monitor it. Currently, Dallas County already has an ordinance that is said to be difficult to enforce—drinking in public parks.

“Finding a way to percent anyone from smoking or drinking in our parks just isn’t going to happen,” Dave Strueber assistant director of the West region for Dallas Park and Recreation Dept. said.

In addition to enforcing the law, many are skeptical if a smoking ban in parks would have any effect at all.

“If people do continue to smoke in parks, they will realize it’s largely a toothless law and more of a symbolic statement than anything else,” Kobylka said.

Some believe the new ban would be beneficial and the new mayor should consider the possible ban.

“Parks are suppose to be clean, fresh air, a chance to run around and that sort of a thing,” Mandy Trexel, SMU freshman, said. “If you go over there (to a park) and someone’s smoking it kind of ruins it for you.”

Garza disagrees.

“I feel that as Americans we have the right to smoke,” he said. “I believe it’s one of our freedoms and it’s upsetting to me the government is trying to hold us back from our rights and what we want to do.”

Dallas County residents will not know if the ban is a possibility until the new mayor is elected.

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