SA City Council District 7 drafting proposal to ban smoking at city parks

Concerns from neighbors pushed District 7 office to begin writing request

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio is the only major Texas city that still allows smoking in city parks, but that could change. The City Council District 7 office is working on a proposal to ban smoking in all city parks.

Playtime at Woodlawn Lake Park is a daily after-school tradition for Philip Henderson and his sons. There's only one thing he doesn't like about the park.

"I think it'd be really great if they would consider not having smoke in this area," Henderson said. 

For years, the Woodlawn Lake Community Association has been asking the city to ban smoking at public parks. It's currently banned at indoor facilities, bus stops, sports arenas, libraries, museums and the zoo. 

Just last week, the City Council District 7 office started putting together a proposal that would expand the current ban to all city parks.

"I would love if they did that, because there's so many young kids. It can really ruin their health," Henderson said. 

Other supporters pointed to the cigarette butts scattered all over park grounds, mentioning they hope a ban would cut down on litter. 

Other major cities in Texas already have smoking bans in their parks. Austin's ban passed in 2011 and violators can be fined up to $2,000 -- Houston's passed a similar ordinance in 2014. Dallas passed the most recent ban, in November with a fine of up to $200. 

"I wouldn't want them to make it illegal," park-goer Juan Mendoza said. 

Mendoza doesn't smoke and doesn't like his son being around it either, but believes stricter bans take away people's freedom.

"People have their own rights," he said. "You've got your own rights. If people want to smoke at the park, it's a public park, right?"

He said if someone is smoking around him and his son at the park, he just moves somewhere else.

"I just want people to be more considerate of others," Mendoza said. 

The proposal is still in its early stages, so there is no timeline yet for when it could be pitched to City Council. The office wants to look at data from other cities who have passed bans, and continue talking to community members. 

Anyone who wants to give input can call the district seven office at 210-207-7044.

Click here for a link to San Antonio's current smoking laws.

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