Children’s and Families’ health was the focus of a new Syracuse city proposal to restrict smoking in public places. The measure passed, but not without concerns over who it might turn off of Syracuse’s festivals and events.
Smokers will have to spend a little more time seeking out a place to light up in Syracuse city parks and other city-owned public spaces. The Common Council approved a measure to make it a ticketable offense to smoke on playgrounds, parks and public grounds. Violators could face a 50-dollar fine. Councilor Khalid Bey says it should be manageable to enforce.
“If a police officer on a natural route rides through and sees you consuming alcohol in a park they will stop and make you take it out or ticket you. This same thing (for smoking) could happen in the same way. It doesn’t require in my opinion, an increased concentration of police power or city power. But I think just in our normal course of business that if we see these things we’ll make the effort to stop it, with the hopes of eventually changing the culture.”
Bey says he recognizes that smokers have rights…but argues if that infringes on another person’s or child’s right to breathe clean air in a park, it’s worth restricting. One of those smokers is fellow councilor Helen Hudson, who voted against the measure as just too restrictive.
“We actually, as the lady from the (American) Cancer Society said, are changing behaviors. Number one: if I don’t want to change my behavior, you’re not going to change it. Number two: you’re going to just drive smokers, which there are still quite a few of us, away from the festivals where we’re coming to spend our dollars also.”
The measure doesn’t go into effect until October first. Bey says that will give festival organizers and vendors a chance to consider setting up smoking areas. And this year’s events wouldn’t be affected.