Fayetteville bans smoking in public parks and trails

Musical playground at Wilson Park / File photo

Fayetteville has expanded its smoking ban.

City Council members last week unanimously adopted 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, had already gained the support of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The ban includes 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) are not included in the ban.

City staff said signs will be posted in parks and on trails to notify the public of the new law. Violators will 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 prohibited smoking inside Fayetteville’s restaurants, stores and other places of employment. Only bars and retail tobacco stores are exempt. 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).

During Tuesday’s meeting, parks staff said the following Arkansas municipalities currently prohibit smoking in parks: Arkadelphia, Ash Flat, Atkins, Batesville, Bentonville, Berryville, Blytheville, Conway, Dover, Elm Springs, Fort Smith, Gosnell, Harrison, Helena-West Helena, Little Rock, Magnolia, Mena, Perryville, Phillips County, Pottsville, Prairie Grove, Russellville, Sebastian County, White Hall and Yellville.

Staff said the following out-of-state cities also ban smoking in public parks: Athens, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Gainsville, Florida; Asheville, North Carolina; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Boulder, Colorado; Ft. Collins, Colorado; and Lawrence, Kansas.

In all, parks staff said in their research they found 1,531 U.S. cities with smoke-free parks.

There was no public comment before the vote was taken, and no council members voiced any objection to the measure.