District 6 City Councilman Alex Wan represents the area and if he and a fellow councilmember have their way, smoking will soon be banned from Atlanta’s most popular green space that attracts an estimated 3 million visitors a year.
Wan and Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd are co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit puffing on cigarettes, cigars or pipes in “city parks, athletic fields, aquatic areas, golf courses, tennis courses, hiking/walking/biking trails, playgrounds, off-leash areas, and spectator and concession areas.”
Shepherd chairs the council's Community Development and Human Resources Committee and it will discuss the legislation at its next meeting on Tuesday, July 10.
If ultimately approved, Atlanta would join other cities in the metro area including Alpharetta, Decatur, Doraville, Douglasville, Duluth, Gainesville, Marietta, and Roswell that have enacted legislation that prohibits smoking in public parks.
In June, North American Properties and CBRE Global Investors announced that they would begin enforcing a smoking ban in public areas of Atlantic Station, its mixed-use development located in the heart of Midtown.
Smoking is no longer permitted in Atlantic Station’s common areas, including the Central Park green space and sidewalks. Non-smoking policies may vary for restaurants with al fresco dining areas. Designated smoking areas have been placed around the perimeter of the property in order to continue accommodating all guests.
Patch is currently awaiting a return phone call for comment from Wan, whose district includes portions of Midtown along with Morningside-Lenox Park, Virginia-Highland, Druid Hills, Ansley Park, Sherwood Forest and Piedmont Heights. The councilman told Patch on Friday that the ban’s intent is to promote green space along with healthy and active living.
“We keep investing in our parks and more and more people – kids and families – are starting to use them,” Wan said. “Certainly I respect the decision of those who choose to smoke … but more people are using our parks and we want to promote healthy living there.”
Wan later added, “We’re certainly not the first municipality to do this; I’m in complete support of this legislation.”
The legislation was written for penalties to be consistent with other park violations such as not cleaning up after a dog defecates in the park. Depending on a judge’s ruling, such penalties can range up to a $1,000 fine, six days in jail plus public service.
The Atlanta Police Department would be responsible for issuing citations, but Wan doesn’t see police enforcement becoming the real deterrent so much as neighbors and park-goers self-policing one another.