December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 32

Smoke-Free Parks: A Win-Win for Everyone
A groundbreaking smoke-free park policy in Texas addresses the new, and harmful,
trend of e-cigarettes and secondhand smoke
By Sue Beatty

O

n June 17, 2014, the El Paso (Texas) City Council approved changes to
a smoke-free ordinance that was originally passed in 2001. Two ordinance changes affected the city's park and recreation system. The first
was that beginning January 1, 2015, smoking will be banned on all city-owned
or city-leased properties, including parks. The second was that electronic cigarettes are banned wherever smoking is banned. What this means is that beginning in 2015, there will be no smoking of any kind (including " vaping, " as
smoking e-cigarettes is known) allowed in El Paso city parks.
Exposure to secondhand smoke
is unhealthy, even in outdoor spaces. Studies have found that levels of
secondhand smoke in outdoor areas
can be equal to amounts found inside
where smoking is allowed. The U.S.
Surgeon General's report in 2010
concluded there is no risk-free level
of exposure to secondhand smoke,
which causes almost 3,000 deaths

30	 Parks & Recreation

from lung cancer and 46,000 deaths
from heart disease every year in the
United States. Exposure to concentrated amounts of secondhand smoke
outdoors can cause respiratory irritation and may trigger asthma attacks.
Cigarette butts are the most commonly littered item in the United States
with more than 175 million pounds littered every year. Cigarette butts can re-

| D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 4 | W W W. N R PA . O R G

main in the environment for years and
contain toxic ingredients that cause
problems when ingested by children,
pets or marine life.
The purpose of the El Paso Parks
and Recreation Department is to
provide indoor and outdoor leisure
services to persons of all ages so they
can develop skills, socialize, experience nature, relax and live a healthier lifestyle. Having smoke-free parks
will help to ensure this purpose is
met. In March 2013, the problem of
smoking in parks was highlighted by
the El Paso Clean Air Coalition. This
group of dedicated individuals spent
a Saturday morning at one of El Paso's most popular parks. The group
placed a red flag at every spot they



December 2014 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of December 2014 - Parks & Recreation

December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 1
December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 2
December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 3
December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 4
December 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 5
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