SAN MARCOS — A new city ordinance recently adopted by City Council prohibits smoking in all city parks and trails, except for designated “smoking areas.” The ordinance was adopted in response to resident requests and support from the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, San Marcos Youth Commission, San Marcos Community Services Commission and the Mission Hills High School Advancement Via Individual Development, or AVID, club.
There are now designated smoking areas at each of the city’s parks. These areas are located away from areas used by children and are reasonably accessible from parking lots. Designated smoking areas are identified with signage. No-smoking signs have been installed at entrances and around the park sites.
San Marcos joins Chula Vista, La Mesa, Coronado, National City, Del Mar, Port of San Diego, El Cajon, San Diego (city and county), Imperial Beach and Solana Beach in adopting a smoke-free policy. The cities of Poway and Escondido are currently preparing their own ordinances.
“Prohibiting smoking in our parks and on our trails provides tremendous benefits to our community,” Mayor Jim Desmond said. “The new policy will protect the environment, save money in litter collection and reduce fire damage. It also prevents glamorizing the act of smoking to young, impressionable children who use our parks daily.”
Leading up to the adoption of this ordinance, the AVID club, along with the Tobacco Control Program, accumulated 5,800 cigarette butts from three city parks during two cleanup events. Cigarette butts can poison children if ingested or burn them if the butt is still lit. They are a large source of litter and can take up to 15 years to biodegrade. They also pose a major fire danger and are the leading cause of fire death in the nation.
The AVID club also conducted an informal survey during their cleanup events and found that 99 percent of the 247 respondents supported a smoke-free policy. The survey also found that 96 percent of smokers supported the policy.
Tobacco-related diseases have been recognized by medical communities as a major cause of preventable illnesses and death. The adverse effects of smoking and tobacco use are manifold both for those who smoke and those who are in proximity to smokers. Secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 38,000 deaths among nonsmokers each year, including 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 35,000 deaths due to heart disease.
California state law prohibits smoking within 25 feet of playgrounds and tot lots and expressly authorizes local communities to enact additional restrictions. To learn more, call Craig Sargent-Beach at (760) 744-9000.