Lewiston Parks and Recreation discuss smoke free parks

LEWISTON, ID Thirty cities throughout the state of Idaho already have smoke free parks or playgrounds, will Lewiston be the next to follow this growing trend?

"Kids start in the first place because they've seen an adult in their life use it," said N. Central Public Health Dept. Coordinator Heidi Henson.

Wednesday night the Lewiston Parks and Recreation department discussed the fact that more and more Idaho parks are going smoke free, because studies show that kids model adult behaviors and cigarettes are the most littered item in the world.

"Playground by the hospital, I was there for 40 minutes and this is how many cigarettes I found, just in the playground area," said Henson.

In 2004, American Poison Control Centers received nearly 8,000 reports of children poisoned from eating cigarette butts. And while the smoke free areas being discussed are designated for kids, the issue has come to light due to the parents who want to enjoy a baseball game or other activities without smelling cigarettes.

"It's starting to be a lot more prominent and a lot of people having more and more issues with it this year and it was just the common courtesy to remove themselves if they want to have a cigarette," Lewiston Parks and Recreation Director Tim Barker.

And they're not alone. In a 2010 Public Health Community Tobacco Survey, 82% said they would support tobacco free parks. But what about other tobacco free areas?

The argument against smoke free zones is that smokers often times feel that they are being discriminated against. However, there are no legal rights associated with the act of smoking.

"People just adjust, and I think it's becoming the norm not to have smoking in public areas," said Henson.

The Parks and Recreation Commission wants to give people the opportunity to voice their concerns before smoke free zones are finalized. The next meeting is May 15th at 5 p.m.