Syracuse moves to ban smoking in city parks

May 27, 2014

Syracuse lawmakers are moving to ban smoking in city parks. And that includes some popular downtown hangout spots.

An ordinance brought up by the Common Council’s new health committee would prohibit smoking on any land managed by the Syracuse parks department. That includes around the fountains in Columbus Circle and Clinton Square and Hanover Squares.

The committee is also putting forward a measure to discourage smoking on sidewalks.

Councilor Khalid Bey says the city won’t be able to stop everyone from smoking in parks, "but the effort, I think, is warranted."

"This is certainly not an attempt to penalize people or certainly not to arrest people, more than it is an effort to ensure people who don’t want to breathe in toxins don’t have to," Bey said at a committee meeting Tuesday.

Enforcement will be most prevalent during large events in the parks on downtown spaces, Bey suggested. The parks department will have the say over where signs go and where enforcement is strongest.

Councilor Bob Dougherty says hopefully having the ban on the books will slowly retrain people’s habits.

"I think just like ‘you used to smoke in waiting rooms,’ it’s going to be ‘you used to smoke in parks,’ you know? And now there’s no longer going to be that. It’s going to be gradual. And I don’t thinking will be probably enforcement, really it’s just I think it’s going to adopted by people by practice," he said. 

The action stems from an effort by residents that live near Columbus Circle to have smoking in the whole neighborhood outlawed. Councilors deemed that beyond their limits. 

"So I think we're taking a little bit of a bite out of the apple here and seeing what happens down the road," said Dougherty.

The council will also vote on whether to add the dropping of cigarette butts on Syracuse city sidewalks to its littering ordinance. Doing so would bring a $50 fine.

Dougherty and Bey will also propose a resolution asking the state to expand the authority of city governments in regulating outdoor smoking.

The actions will be taken up in June.