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Board to support legislation banning smoking in parks

Measure would allow localities to prohibit lighting up at public outdoor facilities<.h3>

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Warren County Board of Supervisors approved a request Tuesday by the county attorney's office to adopt a resolution supporting legislation aimed at snuffing out smoking in public parks.

Virginia House Bill 142 would allow localities to adopt an ordinance banning smoking in public parks, said Assistant County Attorney Dan Whitten. Localities could prohibit smoking in an entire park or designated sections, he said.

Whitten said he was approached earlier this year by the Parks and Recreation Department to determine who has authority to prohibit smoking in public parks.

"Right now, you can prohibit smoking in indoor facilities, but not outdoor," Whitten said. If the bill passes the General Assembly and the county adopts a consequent ordinance, signs would have to be posted at park entrances, alerting people to the ban.

Parks and Recreation Director Dan Lenz said he's received several complaints from people about smoking in parks, particularly around playgrounds and areas with a high concentration of children and pregnant women.

"There have been incidents where people actually got into arguments about smoking," he said. Lenz said that at places like Bing Crosby Stadium in Front Royal, smokers can be asked to step outside to smoke "but we can't enforce it."

Lenz added that he's a little surprised that a similar bill hasn't been introduced or approved before now, given the prevalence of anti-smoking campaigns. He hopes the bill will "appease as many people as possible."

The county attorney's office will take the board's resolution to Richmond on Thursday for Local Government Day, Whitten said. They plan to seek support for the bill from state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg; Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock; Del. Beverly J. Sherwood, R-Winchester; and Del. Michael J. Webert, R-Marshall.

If approved by the General Assembly and Gov. Bob McDonnell, the bill would become law on July 1.


Why is the Republican Board of Supervisors sending a county employee to back a bill sponsored by a Democrat from Alexandria, a bill that has no Republican co-sponsors? Does the Board want to turn our County into New York City? What's next a ban on fat content in our foods? What other overreaching government restrictions are they going to support?

Seriously, what is the world coming to. Cigarettes are not illegal, i totally understood banning smoking indoors, where the smoke would not be able to escape the building, but banning smoking outdoors is rediculous. I have never seen a smoker in any of our parks intentionally blowing smoke in a child, or pregnant womans face. Whats next, a noise ordinance on kids screaming in the park, so they dont make the senior citizens hearing aid set them crazy. This is the USA, not a communist country, the outdoors is the outdoors, there is more pollution in the air from businesses, and fireplaces then a cigarette will ever give off. Close the manufacturing plants down, stop people from using woodstoves. Make cigarettes illegal, but until then leave the outdoor smokers alone, they also have rights!!!!

Queue up the crazy Anti-Smokers who will get on here and rant about how we Tobacco Terrorists are slowly killing asthmatic children with our second-hand smoke. If they had their own way, we would be banned from smoking in our own homes, and rounded up and placed in pens along with all the other undesirables and ne'er-do-wells.

That's okay... I will respond to this the same way I responded to being kicked out of restaurants. Now I stand at the door and blow smoke in everyone's faces as they walk by.

Smokers should be allowed to smoke all they want, this ban outdoors is a little over the top. However, those that smoke should be denied any state or federal funded health care for any disease that results from smoking. Why should everyone have to pay for their poor choice?

If folks want to be controlled by smelly leaves wrapped up in paper, they have all the right in the world to choose their master.

The Supervisor's solution to this outdoor smoking problem is... putting up a no smoking outdoors sign?

With problems like this to solve, no wonder we need 2 lawyers in the County Attorney's office, staying up all night long, feverishly working on answers and then taking educational field trips to Richmond to share their wealth of knowledge with the heathens assembled there.

They say the gist of the outdoor smoking problem in public parks is it causes damage to children and pregnant women?

Well, if that is the obvious problem where none existed before...

... then the obvious alternate politically correct solution is designate the public parks as hazardous waste areas... then putting up a sign banning children and pregnant women from using hazardous waste areas, a.k.a. public parks.... you know.... because of increased levels of air pollution harmful to children and pregnant women.

Two attorneys, 8 years of law school, and their best answer is "make more signs"?

I feel so much safer with a sign enforcing the law and protecting us from ourselves.

Next on the County Attorney agenda... sunshine entering public parks causes skin damage to children and pregnant women.

Why would anyone give the govt more power than they have already.

Don't people realize it starts with smokers but soon they will want to ban sodas hotdogs and anything bad for you.

People should not give the govt more and more power to decide what you can and can't do.

You are never going to stop the anti-smokers from whining. Once they get one little victory they move on to the next, even more petty battle. Why they or lawmakers are wasting their/our time on this with so much more important to deal with I have no idea?

You have a good point Jacko.

Kids are hazardous to my health--I can't look at them running amok and screaming at the top of their lungs while their lackadaisical parents sit idly by without feeling my blood pressure increase. I feel that we should ban them from the park altogether for the health hazards they cause. Surely people would understand that their "habit" of spawning offspring should not be a cause of inconvenience to the rest of us who merely want to enjoy the public park free of harassment!

And as far as the pregnant women... we can create (via the appropriate signage) a designated Gestation Zone where the pregnant women can go to be free from the hazards caused by us societal lepers and our smoke-belching ways.

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