There are eight big cities in the U.S. that ban smoking in public parks, and Houston isn't one of them.
Sure, it's okay to smoke in a public park here (not in Dallas, however), as long as it's not a situation where everyone is sitting down for a concert or some function. If you want to watch your kid play on the monkey bars and smoke a butt, that's cool, according to city laws.
If you live in Bellaire, however, there's a strict no-cigs policy in part to protect the kids. That's a move health monitors have suggested we copy.
"All Harris County cities and most specifically those with coverage in the five focal areas could strengthen outdoor smoking bans to include public parks, walking trails, and public transit stops."
That was the suggestion from a 2012 report on health equity co-sponsored by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.
Should Houston have something similar? It was already a big deal when the city passed sweeping smoking bans on bars and restaurants.
Just last week Philadelphia decided to ban smoking in public parks. The list of cities that do the same includes Los Angeles, San Jose, Chicago, Phoenix and New York.
"I think there's that misconception that 'Oh, we're outdoors, people won't be affected by [second-hand smoke]," said Cynthia Hallett, executive director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.
So, what's the hold-up (here and in San Antonio)? Doesn't look like there's anything on the books here in Houston to discuss the matter. And maybe that's just the way it's going to be.
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