DALLAS -- Starting next week, smokers will be asked to put out their cigarettes while in Dallas parks.
Signs with the phrase “Smell flowers, not smoke” have been placed all over city parks to tell park users about the new ordinance taking effect on March 1.
“The smoking ban allows us to reach our goal of providing a healthy environment and reduce litter from tobacco use in our parks,” said Oscar Carmona with the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department.
Although some supporters wanted a complete smoking ban, the new ordinance is actually somewhat of a compromise. Smoking will still be allowed at city golf courses, the arboretum, the State Fair of Texas, and Elm Fork Shooting Sports.
Vapor or tobacco-less smoking will still be allowed in parks.
Chloe Simmons takes her dog for a walk through Main Street Garden Park most days and said smokers are usually lined up along the sidewalk.
“I am allergic to cigarette smoke and I try to avoid it,” she said. “With this being a dog park, I think smoke-free is great.”
Z Milner also frequents the same park and understands why the new ordinance was adopted.
“It does not bother me as far as other people smoking, but we are moving towards a smoke-free America, so I understand not wanting smoke in the park.”
Although the change will take place on March 1, the City acknowledged it will not actively be looking for violators, at least not right away. Initially park users will be asked for voluntary compliance, and Carmona hopes the signs along with pressure from other users will be enough to put the smoke out.
“In other cities we researched, there was a lot of peer-to-peer compliance with park users telling others smoke was not allowed, and they might want to put [their cigarette] out.”
Arlington, Irving, Flower Mound, Plano, Grand Prairie and McKinney are other cities in the area with at least partial smoking bans in city parks.
Carmona said Dallas is actually one of the bigger cities in the country slow to adopt some kind of smoke-free ordinance in city parks.
Park goers needing a smoke break will have to walk to the nearest public right-of-way. That typically will be the sidewalk running alongside any roadway adjacent to the park.