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Greeley passes ordinance extending smoking ban to frequently-trafficked outdoor spaces

Ban already in place at some outdoor areas
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 22:58:23-05

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UPDATE | The Greeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to extend an existing smoking ban to outdoor spaces. The expanded ban will apply to playgrounds, covered pavilions, skate parks and sport courts.

GREELEY, Colo. -- There was a time, not so long ago, when smoking was allowed just about anywhere, including on airplanes and even more recently, inside restaurants. Car manufacturers even included ashtrays and lighters inside their vehicles until just a few years ago.

So, where can you smoke today? In Denver, smoking is banned indoors and even some outdoor areas like swimming pools. In Greeley, the ban on cigarettes could soon extend to outdoor spaces as well.

That has us taking a 360 look at smoking and what smokers and non-smokers alike said might be a surprise.

Greeley parks director explains reasoning behind new push

“Personally, I do smoke in the park," said one man smoking in Greeley’s Lincoln Park.

Standing at Aven’s Village, Andy McRoberts, the director of culture, parks and recreation for the city of Greeley, told Denver7 about a recent visit to the city’s new $1.3 million playground and explained how what he saw practically took his breath away.

"There were some parents on the playground smoking and it just didn't feel right," McRoberts said.

That put the wheels in motion and the city started considering a smoking ban in public places.

"This is an expansion of our smoking prohibition to include some outdoor areas," McRoberts said.

Wife of smoker says it shouldn’t happen near children

Debbie Stewart is a grandmother whose husband smokes. But, she says, given the overwhelming research about the health effects of second-hand smoke, her husband doesn’t smoke around their grandchildren.

"Adults shouldn't be smoking around children,” Stewart said. “The second-hand smoke is bad. I know my kids had a lot of ear infections when they were younger because of being around second-hand smoke before we knew about that."

Former smoker says keep it to yourself

Vietnam veteran and former smoker Gilbert Martinez agrees.

"Maybe in your house or yard, but out in public like this – it doesn't need to be smelled or seen,” Martinez said. “I believe a ban would be wonderful because there’s a lot of people that don’t smoke, and you’ve got our children and our animals and everything else, and it bothers us all.”

Some say proposal infringes on people’s rights

Others say there is an argument for smoker rights.

"I think it's your right to smoke,” said Tom Lewis. “I mean, it's not good for you, but it's your right if you want to smoke."

Lewis says it is his right, but he also feels a sense of responsibility to be aware of his surroundings.

"I wouldn't go over to a playground and sit there and smoke in front of a bunch of kids or have them breathe in the smoke," Lewis said. “I wouldn’t smoke around my grandchildren.”

Smokers say they are contentious

And perhaps surprisingly - that's the sentiment we found among most smokers.

Asked if she thought the bans were becoming too much from a smoker’s perspective, Amy Roy told Denver7, “Not at all.”

Roy is a smoker who supports the ban.

"If I have to walk to the outskirts of a park or not be able to smoke outside a restaurant. I do not have a problem with it,” Roy said. “I think it's very fair and needed. I try to set a good example for my kids. I don’t smoke in front of them.”

Greeley already has a ban on smoking at ball fields like Butch Butler, swimming pools and at the Greeley Stampede's Island Grove Arena.

The expanded ban would apply to playgrounds, covered pavilions, skate parks and sport courts.

"All of our outdoor sport courts would be included, like basketball and tennis," McRoberts said.

McRoberts said there's certainly a precedent for this, with similar bans in cities like Ft. Collins, Wheat Ridge and Arvada.

"We are in the business of health and wellness and recreation for everybody," McRoberts said. “I’d certainly feel better about it from my position as director of parks and rec.”

"I'm neutral about it, I would say," said a smoker. “You could just go smoke on the sidewalk or somewhere. I would abide by the laws and everything if they passed it."