Friday, September 24, 2004 – GLENDALE, CA — The City Council will consider Tuesday a voluntary ban on smoking at city-sponsored events.

Since a complete ban would be difficult to enforce — especially at large events — the ban would ask for voluntary compliance, said George Chapjian, director of the city parks, recreation and community services department.

Those found smoking at events would simply be directed to the designated areas.

“We’re not ready to ban smoking at this point. We thought we’d find a happy medium at this point and see how it would work out on a volunteer basis,” Chapjian said. “We want to see if volunteer compliance works.”

City-sponsored events include Winter Wonderland, Holiday Tree Lighting, Earth Day and Unity Fest, all of which draw thousands of people.

Events not sponsored by the city or those co-sponsored with other groups would be exempt from the law.

“It’s a public health issue,” Chapjian said. “And we would have cleaner parks, because we do get some littering.”

Currently, state law prohibits smoking within 25 feet of playground areas, not including baseball or soccer fields. The city of Artesia recently passed an ordinance prohibiting smoking at public outdoor city events.

Smoker Keith Lim of Glendale said he would have no problem with limitations on smoking, since he can always find a place to smoke away from people.

“It’s probably a better thing for the community not to have second-hand smoke,” said the 44-year-old. “And it discourages me from smoking more than I normally would.”

Councilman Gus Gomez said he supports any law that would discourage people smoking at events at public parks or restricting them to a separate area.

“This is a step in the right direction. We have people, especially the elderly or children, who have allergy or asthma problems, so it’s a public health issue,” Gomez said, adding that cigarette butts pose a risk to children who pick them up. “The more we discourage smoking or put it aside to a designated area, the fewer risks there are to children who are out playing at the park.”

Councilman Rafi Manoukian said a voluntary program could be more effective in sending out a message to people not to smoke.

“I’m comfortable with the voluntary program because it also goes a ways in educating the public of the dangers of smoking,” he said. “It’s more of an educational program as opposed to an enforcement program.”

The push for the prohibition came from Glendale Adventist Hospital, which has been asking the city to prohibit smoking at public outdoor events.

If the city prohibits smoking at its outdoor events, it would be a move in the right direction toward the ultimate goal — to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, said anti-smoking advocate Patrick Reynolds.

“There’s an overwhelming body of scientific and medical evidence that says secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and heart disease and as many as 50,000 U.S. deaths per year among nonsmokers,” said Reynolds, executive director of Foundation for a Tobaccofree Earth and “Even someone smoking outdoors can create hazardous conditions for those standing nearby. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke.”

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