Portland Parks Become Smoke-Free Tomorrow

3/5/2013 -

Portland Parks Become Smoke-Free Tomorrow
Local ordinance takes effect to limit exposure to secondhand smoke in parks and open space

Portland, Maine – Tomorrow, a new smoke-free ordinance goes into effect in the City of Portland. The ordinance prohibits smoking in city parks, squares and other open spaces. This ordinance is the third smoke-free ordinance approved by the City Council to help protect the public health, safety and welfare, and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. Other smoke-free ordinances passed within the city prohibit smoking in food service establishments and within twenty feet of city-owned or maintained beaches, trails, playgrounds and athletic facilities, except in specifically designated areas.

“These smoke-free ordinances are just another example of how the City of Portland is working to create a healthy and safe community for its residents,” stated City of Portland Mayor Michael Brennan. “Secondhand smoke is a dangerous toxin and whether its children on a swing set or joggers circling the Back Cove or someone walking their dog along the Eastern Prom, we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to reduce the exposure to such a serious health hazard.”

The purpose of these smoke-free ordinances is to decrease the involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke for both adults and children. Secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke in the air from a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe and the smoke exhaled by a person who is smoking. Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, of which at least sixty are known to cause cancer. Exposure to secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in America. In children, secondhand smoke has been found to cause ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath), respiratory infections (i.e., bronchitis, pneumonia) and a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and/or lung cancer. Even brief exposure can be harmful; breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the cardiovascular system that can increase the risk of heart attack. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk. Research from Tufts and Stanford University found that even in an outdoor setting, anyone who is up to twenty feet from a person smoking may be exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke.

To help inform residents of these ordinances, the city is working with the Parks Commission to develop new signs notifying the public that city parks and opens spaces are now smoke-free and they can breathe easy. In addition to police officers and code enforcement, the city’s Park Rangers will also be charged with informing the public of the new ordinance as well as enforcing any violations. While educating the public of the new ordinance is the primary focus, fines of up to $50 could apply for failure to comply.

The city’s smoke-free parks include: Back Cove Park, Lobsterman Park, Baxter Woods, Longfellow Square, Bayside Park, Marginal Way Field, Bedford Park, Monument Square, Bell Buoy Park, Oatnuts Park, Belmeade Park, Payson Park, Boothby Square, Pleasant Street Park, Capisic Pond Park, Post Office Park, Congress Square, Presumpscot Park, Deering Oaks Park, Presumpscot River Preserve, Dougherty Field, Quarry Run Dog Park, Eastern Promenade, Riverton Park, Fessenden Park, Stroudwater Park, Fort Allen Park, Tommy’s Park, Fort Sumner Park, University Park, Ganley Plaza, Valley Street Dog Park, Harbor View Park, Western Promenade, Heseltine Park, and Lincoln Park.

For more information about the city's smoke-free ordinances, including frequently asked questions, visit the city's website.