Fayetteville considers smoking ban in public parks and trails

Wilson Park / File photo

UPDATE:. This proposal was unanimously approved at the March 6 City Council meeting.

Fayetteville could soon expand its smoking ban.

City Council members next week will discuss a proposal to prohibit smoking and the use of tobacco products in all public parks and on the city’s trail system.

The idea, sponsored by the Northwest Arkansas Tobacco and Drug-Free Coalition, has already gained the support of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The ban would include cigarettes, lighted pipes, cigars, vapor devices, e-cigs, and all forms of smokeless tobacco. Cessation products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (nicotine gum, lozenges, patches, inhalers, nasal sprays) would not be included in the ban.

If approved, signs would be posted in parks and on trails to notify the public of the new law. Violators would be subject to a $50 fine.

In a memo to council members, the coalition said its goals are to ensure citizens have the right to breathe clean air while using public parks and trails, decrease child exposure to second-hand smoke, and to reduce pollution by eliminating cigarette butt litter.

A 2004 law already prohibits smoking inside Fayetteville’s restaurants, stores and other places of employment. Only bars and retail tobacco stores are exempt from the current ordinance. A 2011 proposal would have expanded the law to include all Fayetteville bars, but the measure failed when three council members voted against the idea (the ordinance needed six votes to pass).

The council will take up the new proposal at its next regular meeting on March 6.