Public parks could go smoke-free

By Anthony Antoine |

Published 05/29 2014 06:01PM

Updated 05/29 2014 06:14PM

CHAMPAIGN -- Leaders at area park districts are considering putting a smoking ban at all public parks. A few facilities owned by the Champaign Park District already ban smoking, but they're thinking of making it a rule at all public parks. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine finds out what may be ahead.

They're talking inside and outside CPD facilities, the entire park. It's more than 60 outdoor parks and a dozen indoor facilities. The board met Wednesday night.

"She's on a class trip for lunch and I was able to take off work and meet her here."

Joseph Lamontagne spends a lot of time with his daughter at the park.

"We enjoy nature."

Supporters say banning people from smoking at the park could keep kids and families safe.

"We have kids playing on playgrounds. We have kids at baseball games. That's why we don't want kids and people to be affected by second-hand smoke. More and more park districts and cities are going smoke-free following the Illinois Clean Air Act."

The National Cancer Institute says second-hand smoke causes 65,000 deaths per year.

"I think it's a good idea. Most people come out here to enjoy nature. I don't think somebody's second-hand smoke would be a part of that."

But, this dad knows the other side.

"I used to smoke myself, so I understand the argument for it. It's kind of a rights thing. You're outside. Nobody owns it. This is a public park and everyone should be allowed to do what they want to on public lands."

Just this week, the board decided to gather more information.

"We really don't have any major issues with it. At this point, we're going to hold off and not implement anything at this time."

But, when and if the proposed ban comes up again, a bigger question remains.

"How do you enforce something like this?"

"I don't see how they could enforce that without creating the cigarette police or something."

The park district will pay close attention to other parks in the country to see how successful the plan is. They even talked to UI because campus is smoke-free.

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