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Albany considers smoking ban in parks

ALBANY -- The Albany Common Council is expected to vote Monday night on whether or not to ban smoking in all city parks. That would expand an ordinance passed in 2012.
"This ordinance really decreases residents exposure to the harmful effects of second hand smoke," said Council Member Dorcey Applyrs.
Council Member Applyrs is the sponsor of the ordinance. She said it is aimed at community health.
Council Member Mike O'Brien said it is a good goal, but he doesn't think this ordinance is the way to do it.
"I think it's going to be very difficult to enforce and I think it's too far reaching, particularly in parks that have big events in them," he said.
Events like the Tulip Festival or plays at Washington Park and Alive at Five at the Riverfront Park. Council Member O'Brien said he thinks the same goal could be achieved by just limiting smoking areas.
"With big crowds you are going to get some smokers there and I think it's reasonable to have a remote, well defined area," he said.
Applyrs said she is afraid that would get too confusing. And while she believes people have a right to smoke, she said she also feels families have a right to walk through a smoke-free park.
"We do need to be mindful of how that individual choice impacts the health of others and in this case second hand smoke can kill," she said.
If the ordinance passes Monday night, O'Brien said he has questions about enforcement.
"If someone is smoking while driving through the park, is that a violation? The golf course?" asked Council Member O'Brien.
Applyrs said she is willing to sit down with other council members and talk about enforcement. When it comes to the golf course, she said that may be considered a special case.
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