CHICAGO — The Chicago Park District's Board of Commissioners voted to ban all forms of smoking in Chicago parks, beaches, playlots and other facilities at Wednesday.
Pipes, cigars, cigarettes, e-cigarette vaporizers and medicinal marijuana are included in the ban, according to the resolution passed Wednesday, which cites tobacco use as "the single most preventable cause of death in the United States."
Lizzie Schiffman says the measure went into effect when signed, just ahead of this weekend's Riot Fest:
Smoking has been banned at beaches, playgrounds and within 15 feet of park district buildings since 2008. The new resolution extends the ban to all park grounds and allows for more signage and enforcement, and identifies specific hazards to the community posed by smoking on Chicago Park District property. The new resolution also specifically names vaporizers and marijuana in the smoking ban.
The resolution will be formalized with a policy change further down the line and could extend the ban to include festivals hosted on Park District property, like Lollapalooza.
The ban went into effect immediately, meaning Riot Festival and other events at Chicago parks will be smoke-free.
"Signage will be posted at Riot Fest notifying patrons of the smoking ban, but there will not be any ticketing," Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said.
A Riot Fest spokeswoman said Thursday they had no official comment on the new ban.
A rep from the American Lung Association presented the findings of a recent four-week study conducted in July at 10 Chicago parks from the South, West and North Sides to the board at Wednesday's meeting.
The study included surveying 106 park visitors about their feelings towards smoking on Park District property. Ninety percent of people responding to the survey said "they do find litter from tobacco products to be a major problem in Chicago parks," Mike Kolleng, manager of the Healthy Air Campaign said.
"Sixty-one percent of people surveyed said they would prefer smoke-free parks, including 8 percent of current or former smokers," Kolleng said. "Eighty-seven percent said they do find secondhand smoke harmful and would support a ban."
While Kolleng acknowledged that the study's sample group was small, he said "you cannot discount the fact that people in the parks were saying these things ... an overwhelming majority did agree that secondhand smoke and litter in the parks is a serious problem."
Kolleng also noted that only one of the 10 parks visited had signs clearly indicating that the area was smoke-free.
Joel Africk, President and CEO of the Respiratory Health Association, also submitted comments to the board Wednesday supporting the ban.
"Respiratory Health Association applauds the Chicago Park District for adopting a 100 percent smoke-free parks policy," Africk's statement said. "This policy will keep our parks safe and fun for Chicago's families, promotes healthy, tobacco-free living and supports smokers in their efforts to quit."
The City Council voted in January to ban e-cigarette use indoors, later adding an exemption that allows the vaporizers in shops that sell the devices and related equipment.
The resolution references the dangers of secondhand smoke, which it called "threat to the personal health of everyone," and condemns the "careless disposal of smoking materials [which] creates a fire hazard and litter that is both unsightly and unhealthy.
"These materials are particularly hazardous to children who may handle and/or ingest them," the resolution continues. "These materials further pose harm to wildlife. Habitats in our parks, surrounding harbors, rivers, lagoons and the lake may be adversely impacted by the litter tobacco use generates."
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