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Palo Alto bans smoking at all parks

Original post made on May 14, 2013

Palo Alto took its strongest stance to date against tobacco on Monday night, when the City Council swiftly passed a law that would snuff out smoking at all local parks.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 1:23 AM

Comments (40)

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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on May 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

"Maybe we should just outlaw smoking in the entire city"

Sooner or later this will happen. It's only a matter of time. Thanks for taking this step towards a smoke free Palo Alto.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 7:09 am

This has gone too far, although I agree with a ban near play areas, barbeque areas and all over places like Foothills.

My father used to visit regularly and was a life long smoker. As a consideration to us, he used to walk to our neighborhood park for a smoke, he would sit where he could bother nobody and spend an hour or so smoking and reading then walk back. He didn't bother anyone, leave butts, or anything else. The fact that if he visited us now would mean that he had nowhere to smoke where it didn't bother anyone would definitely put him off coming to visit. He was no longer a heavy smoker, just enjoyed a couple of cigarettes a day and although he had 'quit' for months at a time, he was never able to quit completely.

There must be lots of people like him and there must be some places where they can smoke legally.

I hate smoking - grew up with smoke, ash and butts everywhere. But I think this bann is too much.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2013 at 7:34 am

I welcome the ban in principle because smoking is so deadly. It's dangerous to non-smokers, who are unwilling victims even outdoors. However, I doubt that this ban is enforceable. Most gardeners still use gas leaf-blowers in Palo Alto and freely ignore the ordinance banning their use, because the ordinance is not being enforced. I'm afraid that tis ban will meet the same fate.


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Posted by Raymond
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 14, 2013 at 7:41 am

I'm not a smoker. If I were, I would be upset by the fact that a person can buy them in Palo Alto. If I can buy them, then I can smoke them.


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Posted by David
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 7:43 am

ALL THE PARKS? City council missed 4,000 acres of parks and open space. This would have been a good year to ban smoking in the foothills due to the alarming fire danger.


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Posted by jimmae
a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

Yeah,Yeah,Yeah, everyone knows the harmful effects,etc.
My joy in seeing this ban is that encountering smokers just plain stinks.
Foul malodorous stank emanating from the smokers is the last thing I look for when recreating in open spaces.
Thanx PA city council, although I expect the arrogant+callous disregard of this ordinance within the ranks of smokers as they hack+scoff their filthy habit wherever they want in disdain of others breathing to continue unabated.


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Posted by Whiffs
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2013 at 8:35 am

I rarely come across cigarette smokers in the parks I go to (Rinc, Pardee), though I have occasionally detected whiffs of pot smoke coming from some shady corners. I wonder if this ban will affect those "alternative smokers" too.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 8:38 am

Interesting, I have just seen the mayor on a telephone interview with KTVU, he mentions an unofficial Palo Alto Online poll - so he does pay attention here.

Another point that has occurred to me, is that smokers will now be in parking lots or walking along the sidewalks smoking as they are still legal. This is what has happened in Castro Street, the parking lots have become unofficial smoking places which is not pleasant as you park and open the door to find lots of smoke.

If you move smokers from the parks, they are going to smoke somewhere and then those places become unpleasant.

Please think this through.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 9:23 am

> "Maybe we should just outlaw smoking in the
> entire city," she added facetiously, spurring
> chuckles from her colleagues.

This is not the first time that Ms. Kniss has made this statement as a Council person. As memory serves, she made a similar statement when she was a Council during her first eight years as a City policy maker. Although at that time, I think she actually said she wanted to ban smoking in people's homes.

It's very hard to believe that this woman has any sense of the rights of citizens in the US. One comes to wonder with Ms. Kniss if, as a life-long politician, she hasn't come to believe that "I am the law".

Re-electing this woman will prove to be a mistake that many Palo Altans will come to regret.


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Posted by Mill Burray
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 14, 2013 at 9:25 am

Oh great. What's next? Hospitals?


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Downtown North
on May 14, 2013 at 10:30 am

Thank you City Council! Please consider a ban on smoking in multiple unit dwellings including apartment buildings and condominium complexes. The smoke from a neighboring unit pervades my apartment to the point that it has actually set off the smoke detector in my home on several occasions. There is no easy escape, especially if you own your home.


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Posted by j99
a resident of Barron Park
on May 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I don't smoke and think no smoking in restaurants and bars is great, but not outside. Smoke goes up into the air and is no danger to anyone but the smoker. [Portion removed.]

If they have that much time on their hands they should go out and pick up plastic bags for a few hours per day.
More lunacy to make Palo Alto the joke of the South Bay.


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Posted by nonsmoker
a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2013 at 10:58 am

This will go the way of other unenforced Palo Alto park regs:
- the "no off-leash" dogs in parks
- the "no amplified music" in parks
- the "no generators" in parks
- the park hours

We live near Greer. We call the cops all the time b/c of park regulation violations, particularly deep thumping generator powered DJ parties on weekends.

The cops tend to arrive hours later, aren't familiar with the park regs, and don't wanna tell a party to shut it down. Net result: partiers get mad at park neighbors.

Woe to those who try to speak to a smoker at a park... this will be just like the dog-leash requirement that already exists in all our parks: indignant violators will pick a fight rather than follow the posted regs.

Be careful out there. Our larger parks are increasingly a haven for people who don't live in Palo Alto, and along with their trash, they bring no knowledge of these Palo Alto rules. They bring their own expectations, and there's little that will be done about it if signage doesn't get more aggressive and enforcement picks up a little.




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Posted by Olivier
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 11:10 am

I take my granddaughter to most of the parks with playgrounds in PA. I have no problem with people drinking and smoking AWAY from the playgrounds, but have a big problem with the people who do so in or near the playgrounds. It is simply inappropriate!

Late last summer, there was a situation where a large group of parents were drinking several bottles of wine, as well as some of the parents smoking, right ON the playground at Bowden Park--with their very small(1-3 yrs) children in attendance. The parents ignored their children as they picked up cigarette butts and drank from their parents' plastic wine cups--truly shocking. Talk about child endangerment..toddlers I getting tobacco bits washed down with 14% alcohol.

Talk about lack of enforcement: at least three other shocked parents called PAPD to report this party and child endangerment, between 4 and 6 pm, but the police never showed up as far as anyone knew!

To add insult to injury, the party cleaned up their wine paraphernalia and put it in the trash, but not their cigarette butts! Talk about evidence

At least at Rinconada, there are signs forbidding alcohol in the park without a permit.


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

I don't smoke - never have, so this doesn't affect me at all. However, this is more laughable you-know-what from a bunch of limousine liberals totally out of touch with reality. I almost never see anyone smoking in a park!
Great points above about the off-leash dogs, prohibited parties and teenage weed-smokers. If they can't enforce that, are they really going to be able to track down one or two people smoking a cigarette?

No one cares of smoking is illegal in parks! You think the cops are going to put the cuffs on someone or write them a ticket? They'll probably just tell them to put it out, which is really the reasonable thing to do anyway. Who wants to live in some sort of North-Korea like city where smokers are given time in a prison camp? Short of that, any rules are virtually meaningless.

How can our city council pat themselves on the back and walk around like you are doing something useful for our city? This is a waste of time!
I think most residents would join me in saying, get the library done! yesterday! Don't do anything else until you have figured that out.

No wonder people are fed up with government.


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Posted by Josh
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 11:51 am

Great idea, but a waste of time for police officers to enforce. I rather see our police patrolling our streets for break-ins or catching speeders. Maybe our firefighters can patrol our parks instead of hanging out at Safeway, Starbucks, etc.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Mountain View
on May 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I'm going to start selling maps of where smokers can smoke in PA.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Silly
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Just what we need our police wasting time on.


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Posted by Abe Mitchell
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm

As aipe smoker I really can not see any harm in smoking the same in a public park, often or not I am asked and told the aromatic tobacco has a pleasant aroma. However if the ban becomes effective I shall smoke the pipe within my own back yard. The tobacco is Dutch.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by It's legal
a resident of College Terrace
on May 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Olivier:

Looks like you mentioned this incident back in September
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

As for the topic at hand-- ridiculous "feel good" legislation pushed through by Liz Kniss (no surprise there)--too bad they cannot act as quickly and efficiently when it comes to important issues facing the city. What about BBQ smoke???
Joe is correct about Kniss--she is a self-centered, lifetime politician, who has become a menace to the city


 +   Like this comment
Posted by wally
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm

more lame posturing like the UN flag, plastic bags, ____free zone etc. Why? because you'll never get a cop to show up to enforce it, and if you did, it would be 15 minutes later when he couldn't write a ticket anyway because he didn't the person actually smoking.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by coooper
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Do we really want to subject ourselves to the "rule of law" when laws are made with so little thought late in the night, with no discussion of balancing individual liberty vs. the health and enjoyment of others? When instead of inviting citizen input, the council moves to cut off the public?

I would at least like to have seen it observed that: (1) smokers forced out of Lytton Plaza will instead be fuming up and down the crowded sidewalks of University Avenue; (2) parents respectful enough to take their smoking down to the park may now blow it off and smoke in the home near their kids.

There is some chance the committees would have uncovered these side effects, but they, too were muzzled.


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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Seems like a waste of time to try to enforce. But what it also means is that the smokers can take a walk down the sidewalk for a smoke then go back to the park. So we will have sidewalk smokers!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Downtown North
on May 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm

In 1995 Palo Alto enacted a ban on smoking within 20 feet of the doorway of any business or other building to which the public has access and prohibited smoking within the same 20 feet of bleachers, backstops and other recreation equipment in parks.

To my knowledge, the 1995 law has never been publicized by signage or enforced by police.

Read more: Web Link




Read more: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by now
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm

now ban leaving car engines running in parking. if you are texting you have to shut engine off. too hot , too much pollution.


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Posted by PA Native
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm

@Anonymous: I was at the Giants Dugout and someone was smoking right outside the door. Smoke is so potent that the breeze sent it all inside the store. All stores should have signs on their storefronts about the smoking ban w/in 20 feet. I've seen one on Gelato's and it's a good reminder.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm

The way I see it, until Palo Alto stops selling cigarettes, they are required to offer a safe space to smoke. The city can not have it both ways.

Until influential cities such as Palo Alto are brave enough to put pressure on tobacco companies to start listing the ingredients of cigarettes and not allowing those companies to cover it up as "trade secrets", I believe Palo Alto can't completely shut out their smoking citizens from all parks and/or all park areas.

Palo Alto has to protect all of their citizens in this matter, and those who are victims of the tobacco companies' abuses should not be unfairly penalized while the city sells the very thing being outlawed from use. The power of Palo Alto City could do a lot toward demanding real change in terms of putting pressure on cigarette manufacturers to be made liable for their part in this argument.

If all the parks are closed to smokers, then I think Palo Alto should not sell cigarettes and the city should take a very public message to tobacco companies that this city:
1. will not sell their products; and
2. demands that the tobacco companies reveal all the ingredients in their products.

In this way, the city of Palo Alto will show they are interested in protecting their citizens and penalizing the tobacco companies, not penalize their citizens and protect the tobacco companies.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Maddy
a resident of Downtown North
on May 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm

I agree with Anonymous of downtown North

"Thank you City Council! Please consider a ban on smoking in multiple unit dwellings including apartment buildings and condominium complexes. The smoke from a neighboring unit pervades my apartment to the point that it has actually set off the smoke detector in my home on several occasions. There is no easy escape, especially if you own your home."


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm

If we are going to ban behavior based unhealthy practices in our parks, then we should ban obesity first.

Kills lots more people than smoking.


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Posted by PA Native
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm

@Outside Observer: Obesity doesn't affect the health of others while smoking affects innocent lungs.

I think banning the sale of cigarettes in Palo Alto is a great idea!

And banning smoking in apartments is a great idea too because the smoke does go through the ducts - I recall those helpless days decades ago.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm

@PA Native,

Yes it does in many, many ways. Here are just 2 examples:

Diversion of limited health care resources and health care costs. How many people have died or received insufficient care while the obese flood our hospitals and care facilities with entirely preventable maladies.

Obamacare plans to increase premiums for smokers. Good idea, but they are not doing the same for the obese. Why?

The starving children in 3rd world countries. Every obese person has responsibility for their suffering. What the obese eat in excess of need could end global hunger.


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2013 at 9:55 am

No accident: smoking declines, obesity rises. No accident.

Obesity from eating in excess of need? Partly true only.


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Posted by oh well
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Oh well! While the city worries about smokers, they approve construction of community centers, soccor fields our kid's play on, low income housing projects, etc. on known federal superfund sites. Meanwhile, the chemical cesspool below Barron Park and South Palo Alto neighborhoods continues to perculate and go unchecked. Wouldn't it be great if they set their priorities a bit higher.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm

@businessdecision,

"smoking declines, obesity rises". True. The diseases from smoking also kill younger and quicker than the diseases from obesity.

Because smokers die younger and faster, they are less of a burden on social programs and health care.

Therefore, we should encourage the obese to smoke. ;)


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2013 at 7:38 am

OO, Cigarettes suppress appetite. Quite a few people say since smokers don't hang around long in life, they shouldn't be the target of so much negativity. Then there are some who don't want to kill the goose that is laying the golden egg of taxes. But no, we shouldn't encourage the obese to smoke. We should look at what the food industry has been doing, and why we are all so rushed that we can't eat decently, and why the government does not subsidize fruits and vegetables (too expensive, given how un-filling they are, for many). But this thread's about banning smoking--


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2013 at 8:04 am

People trying to quit smoking tend to eat as a substitute for a cigarette and as a result quitters put on weight, amounts vary. Those who "diet" tend to smoke to suppress hunger.

Quite often, obesity and smoking go hand in hand. I have a family member who has spent most of her adult life seesawing between the two. She can deal with one at a time, but not both at the same time. I think she is fairly typical in her subset demographics.


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Posted by Kitchen Police
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2013 at 9:05 am

If Palo Alto REALLY is serious about smoking in public places, then they should ban the SALE of cigarettes in Palo Alto. Attack the problem at the source.

And for heaven's sake, actually DO something, proactively, about the people who drink and smoke infront of small children in public places! The little kids have no say in the matters of their own health.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2013 at 9:17 am

I doubt if Palo Alto would ban the sale of cigarettes, it would cost them too much in lost sales tax revenue as smokers would go elsewhere to buy their cigarettes and at the same time buy their alcohol and other tax generating purchases!

Remember, they wanted pot dispensaries for the sales tax!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by businessdecision
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2013 at 9:21 am

What's this about banning the sale of? Don't wish for that. It's not tax revenue. It's freedom.


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Posted by Green&Clean
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Bravo!! No smoking in the parks!!
Very good IDEA, for everyone truly.


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