Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Long Beach institutes smoking ban in all parks and recreation areas [Updated]

October 19, 2010 | 11:31 pm

The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to ban smoking in all city parks and recreational areas.

The ban will cover, among other sites, all city parks, sports fields and hiking trails.

The issue initially came before the council as a request by Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal to prohibit smoking at the smaller parks because of difficulties for nonsmokers and children to avoid smoke in more confined spaces. The Parks and Recreation Commission then proposed expanding the ordinance to cover all city parks and recreation areas.

The ban is indicative of Long Beach’s support of a healthy environment for residents and visitors who participate in recreational activities, Lowenthal said. “It is an important statement for our city and our commitment to an active lifestyle, ” she said.

Deleth Caspeta, a 17-year-old senior at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, voiced her support for the measure to the council. She later told the Times that she became active in the push for the ban because of her experiences of feeling ill after breathing in secondhand smoke while waiting for the school bus in the sixth grade.

“We would get headaches from just waiting there,” Caspeta said. “This will be something good for future students and generations.”

[Updated at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday: An earlier version of this post did not make it clear that Caspeta's comments about her secondhand smoke experience were made in an interview with The Times.]

Councilman James Johnson expressed concern that the lack of a requirement for signs warning of the new law would result in tickets to smokers who were unaware of the regulation. Lowenthal disagreed, saying that much like other bans on smoking in town, word will get out.

Under the ordinance, those caught smoking in recreational areas will be fined $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense within a year, and $500 for each subsequent violation within a year of the previous offenses.

-- Stephen Ceasar in Long Beach