Smokers in El Paso, Texas, will no longer be allowed to light up at bus stops, city parks and stadiums as the new smoking ban comes into effect from the beginning of the next year.
In summer 2014 city council passed second phase of the Clean Air Ordinance which comes into action on January 1. It bans use of tobacco and e-cigarettes at all city-owned facilities, including parks, bus stops, playgrounds, and the El Paso International Airport parking lot.
Sarai Garcia, city health educator, says that it is very important to ban smoking in public places because it will help people from the community to understand that everyone has his right to breathe fresh smoke-free air, especially kids.
Nora Hernandez, program manager at Smoke Free Paso Del Norte, says that children playing at playgrounds are dealing with adults who smoke.
In 2012, volunteers from Smoke Free Paso Del Norte organized an action during which thay planted flags by each cigarette butt they found at Eastwood Park. There were flagged 500 cigarette buts in just ten minutes. Volunteers repeated their action at Memorial Park and achieved same results.
Hernandez welcomes the new smoking ban saying that it will help to protect non-smokers and kids from secondhand smoke exposure.
According to Department of Public Health spokesman Armando Saldivar, there will be placed no smoking signs on playgronds and parks. The ban will be enforced by Parks and Recreation employees. Before turning to law enforcement, smoker will be asked to butt out.
El Paso follows example of other American cities that adopted similar bans. The talk is about Los Angeles, Socorro and New York.
The Clean Air Ordinance is made up of three phases. The first one prohibited use of e-cigarettes in places where tobacco was banned. It came into action on September 1. The final phase will come into effect on July 1, 2015, and it would demand tobacco retail stores to have isolated venting and air controls.