BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A Buffalo Common Council member wants city parks to be smoke-free.
Ellicott District Council Member Darius Pridgen introduced the resolution Thursday that would ban smoking in city parks, except in designated areas.
Right now, Buffalo's no-smoking ordinance only applies to city buildings.
"I'm asking an ordinance to amend that law to also include city parks, except in designated areas,” Pridgen explained.
Pridgen originally wanted no smoking at all, but word of what he wanted to do prompted some constituents to ask him to consider including those designated areas, which he said he’s okay with.
At Roswell Park Cancer Institute, tobacco expert and Chair of Behavioral Health, Dr. Andrew Hyland, says smoke-free altogether would be best, but at least Buffalo is catching up.
"Anything that decreases tobacco use, especially the social norms around tobacco use, is going to save lives, and help the health of the community,” Dr. Hyland said.
Pridgen said it was friends at Roswell who encouraged the resolution.
"They're really the ones who told me that right now, the City of Buffalo is one of the last larger cities in New York State that does not already have a policy,” Pridgen said.
According to tobaccofreenys.org, locally, the City of Buffalo is one of very few municipalities in Erie County without smoke-free parks.
As a newly introduced ordinance, the resolution won't be brought to the table for a couple of weeks. Pridgen says, if passed, the ordinance would likely take effect some time in June.
While some consider this progressive, Pridgen admits his proposal has received backlash. There are those who feel they should be able to smoke in parks, but also, he said, there are those who worry it will aggravate police-community relations.
"People who feel that this might be another vehicle that the police will use to make contact with the residents. Now I want to be clear, our smoking ordinance is not criminal, it's a violation,” Pridgen said.
What that means, Pridgen says, is that you could be ticketed for smoking in a park - not arrested - if the resolution passes. He says that's the way it works in city buildings and that it would be the same for city parks.
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