The DeKalb County Clean Indoor Air Ordinance, which was amended Oct. 23, bans smoking in parks and outdoor recreational areas.
Smoking was already banned in places of employment and in restaurants in unincorporated DeKalb County.
The ban took effect immediately on Wednesday.
District Health Director S. Elizabeth Ford applauded the vote by the DeKalb Board of Commissioners.
“We are extremely pleased by the actions taken by the Board of Commissioners to add this layer of protection,” Ford said in an Oct. 24 statement.
“Smoking and secondhand smoke cause serious illness and even death and costs our Georgia health care system millions of dollars annually. This is definitely a win for improving future health outcomes for our citizens, especially our youth,” Ford said.
On Sept. 13, 2011, the Board of Commissioners balked at approving the amendment by a 4-2 vote. This time, commissioners voted 6-0 to extend the smoking ban to parks. Commissioner Elaine Boyer was outside the room when the vote was taken.
District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson, the board’s presiding officer, said that secondhand smoke, especially smoke that reaches children and adults on public playgrounds, can sometimes trigger asthma problems as well as expose nonsmokers to deadly toxins.
“Anyone who works, lives or uses our parks and recreation areas will benefit from this added protection,” said Johnson, who has a background in public health.
The Board of Health’s 2010 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that tobacco use among DeKalb youth is a problem – 8.3 percent of high school students begin smoking before age 13, and 3.9 percent smoke 10 cigarettes per day.
Fifty-six percent have tried to quit during the past 12 months. Cigarette smoking is highest among white youth while cigar smoking is highest among Hispanic youth.
Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke can result in increased risk for illnesses such as lung cancer, heart disease, asthma attacks, and ear and respiratory infections for younger children.
Ford thanked community partners and an initiative funded by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called Communities Putting Prevention to Work for helping to educate businesses and community groups about the dangers of secondhand smoke and the importance of creating smoke-free environments at home, in vehicles and in public places.
Ford, the Board of Health and other activists had pushed for prohibiting smoking in all public places, including entrances and exits to buildings, parks, playgrounds, restaurants, adult entertainment establishments, and outdoor entertainment venues and service lines such as ATM lines. They wanted to reduce the number of rooms a hotel can designate for smoking to 10 percent from 25 percent.
At the time, Johnson said he did not want the county to go down “a slippery slope” with an expanded smoking ban.
Bar and strip club owners had opposed extending the ban.
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