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No Ifs, Ands Or Butts–Smoking Ban Proposed For City Parks

May 3rd, 2014 · 45 Comments · City Council, News and Events

cigs in park

Anna Price, a public-health professor at Sacred Heart University, and students are leading the charge to ban smoking in city parks. The City Council is expected to refer the matter that has the support of the Parks Board to the Ordinance Committee during Monday night’s meeting. City Council agenda here.

Price says a body of evidence shows “children and adolescents are the demographic group most often observed using Bridgeport parks. By banning smoking in Bridgeport Parks we might contribute to reductions in smoking initiation among Bridgeport youth.” She adds that smoking in parks contributes to the social norm smoking is acceptable, discarded cigarette butts pose a significant environmental hazard to wildlife, marine life, and water systems, as well as the health impact of secondhand smoke.

Price shares more on this subject in a statement to OIB:

We chose to work on the smoking ban in Bridgeport Parks because a smoking ban in parks will have a positive impact on the Bridgeport community. Both New York City and Boston have successfully implemented a smoking ban in their public parks, and we think Bridgeport can join these Cities in the effort to reduce smoking in our communities.

This project originated from a health advocacy lecture in the public health course I teach for exercise science students at Sacred Heart University. Rather than just memorizing facts about the health advocacy process, we decided to apply what we were learning to help our community.

According to data collected by the Bridgeport Health Department, smoking rates jump significantly during adolescence. In Bridgeport, less than 5% of sixth graders smoke, whereas 23% of 11th graders smoke. We know from previous studies that youth are more likely to start smoking when they see others around them smoking. We also know (from a SHU exercise student Honors capstone project) that children and adolescents are the demographic group most often observed using Bridgeport parks. By banning smoking in Bridgeport Parks we might contribute to reductions in smoking initiation among Bridgeport youth.

Based on in-person and on-line petitions, we think most Bridgeport residents agree with the smoking ban. We are hoping the City Council will support the ban in their upcoming meetings.

Several people have been instrumental in helping us with our advocacy efforts: the Bridgeport Health Department Director Kristin Dubay-Horton; Mayor Finch; City Council members Richard Paoletto and Sue Brannelly; and former City Council member Steve Stafstrom.

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45 Comments so far ↓

  • BOE SPY

    Good. All those cigarette butts get in the way of me looking at the drug baggies, hypodermic needles, beer cans and liquor bottles.
    It is almost like being worried about tripping on your shoelace when your pants are on fire.

  • John Marshall Lee

    What you seem to be saying, BOE SPY, is if the smoking ban in parks is set in motion, then when we walk in a park, we can elevate our eyes from worrying about trips and falls and I guess that works. But who will enforce the NO-SMOKING ordinance? Will there be more Green Signs posted with NO SMOKING and Mayor Finch’s name? Or does Mayor Finch have another candidate in the wings for a job as inspector? If there is no inspector appointed, will the Police Department act as WATCHDOGS on this issue?
    As one who has never smoked cigarettes (though others in my immediate family did so) I still had “bend over and pick ‘em up” duty during basic training at Fort Dix many years ago. Talk about a dirty habit and irresponsibility for cleaning up your own mess? Very much like the bad habits we see exhibited among our elected representatives who do not live up to their duties and leave the results of their “dirty work” for others to later discover and deal with. Shame on them! Time will tell.

    • BOE SPY

      They seem to be worrying about these little things when there are bigger problems afoot. All those single cigar wrappers on the ground with the cigar butts nearby. They are doing everything they can to legalize pot as a tax revenue and illegalize cigs whose price is already 90% tax. I just don’t understand.

  • Brick

    Just what we need … another regulation on the books that won’t be enforced.

    It’s also illegal to ride dirt bikes and quads on city roads, but I see them everywhere! And these are more of a serious nuisance than smokers in parks.

  • Wingnut

    The City can’t even stop employees from smoking in or on city property! Saw the Mayor with a cigar in his city vehicle the other day! You must be kidding me! Please!

  • EverHopeful

    This proposed No Smoking in City Parks infuriates me. First and foremost, smoking is not illegal and here’s yet another example of idiot academics who are too full of themselves.

    And this pinhead’s logic is smoking jumps significantly during adolescence? Everything jumps significantly during that timeframe!

    Secondhand smoke is a problem at Seaside Park? Spare me this ridiculous hype.

    Here’s a thought … Why doesn’t this woman have her class do a public health study on under-age and binge drinking by SHU students? The dangers of public urination for the environment, drunken driving, irresponsible sexual relationships resulting in STDs, pregnancy and possible sexual assault are well chronicled in the CT Post Police Blotter by SHU students.

    With everything else going on in this City, the fact City councilpeople and our Mayor are even addressing this issue infuriates me. In their righteous zeal, they’ll deny the poor working stiff the opportunity to grab a smoke as they walk through the park.

    And I have never smoked but I detest this holier-than-thou, we-know-what’s-best-for-you attitude by academia and now Mayor Finch and selected council members.

    • Godiva2011

      Well-stated. SHU students living in residential areas of the North End are for the most part uncouth and disrespectful of their neighbors’ rights to a peaceful existence. We have a friend whom we visited one night while a party was going on across the street in a home rented to SHU students on Old Town Road. The police came twice to quiet them down, no arrests, just warned. The sad part is in the morning, the house, the neighboring properties and the road was littered with butts, beverage cups and even a condom. Is that a qualification for a littering ordinance, or should just the smokers be faulted?

  • Bond Girl

    I do agree it is much cleaner and more healthy to have smoking banned in parks so they may be enjoyed for what they are supposed to be without cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke wafting about and dirty butts and stogies strewn on the grounds.

    What I question is the use of resources for the enforcement of this ban. Are law enforcement resources better utilized chasing smokers around than effecting a drop in the crime rate, violent and otherwise in our City? Is the city going to invest taxpayer money in smoking security officers for enforcement of a ban on something that is not illegal? If there is money for this effort, why can’t they lower our taxes?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The police are going to go after smokers but they don’t respond when someone destroys your property.
    Why doesn’t this SHU professor do her experiment in Fairfield?

  • Black Rockin

    Old story I heard near the “Howe” Seaside Park CT.
    “Do you smoke after sex?”
    “Don’t know, I never looked.”

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Lol, yeah okay, no smoking in the parks, blah blah blah. I’ve been hearing if you contribute to the Finch campaign, you’d be exempt from the new law.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Well, the good news is if you’re at Seaside Park, you could just walk over to Finch’s new solar field at the dump and smoke, ’cause according to Anastasi that isn’t part of the park …

  • Andrew C Fardy

    This council will pass laws telling us how to live like the curfew or this anti-smoking ordinance but they themselves don’t know how to follow the law. How 15 members of the council broke the law will be brought up at Monday’s public-speaking session.

    • Bob Walsh

      You are so right about that curfew ordinance. I saw where a 16-year-old Bassick High student was shot in the middle of the day in the South End.
      I guess since it didn’t happen after curfew, no problem. They need to haul Gaudett’s ass before the council and demand some answers besides how much do those electric bikes cost.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Well here I am, again the outside man. I used to smoke 2.5 packs a day and quit when it was $1.50 a pack. Two years after my father died of lung cancer. I have never lectured as a reformed smoker and if a guest lit a cigarette in my home, I got an ashtray. Cigarette smoking is now and has always been a filthy, disgusting habit. Their clothes and breath stinks. Being in the company of a smoker for 10 minutes, your clothes and hair stink. Some of my best friends smoke. Unlike marijuana, it is addicting and to quit cold turkey is a bitch. Cigarette butts and packs are strewn everywhere. Any nonsmoker who has a problem with the ban is an ass. Secondhand smoke is as bad. I will assume safely anyone who thinks this ban is not a good thing or a step in the right direction is brain dead. There is my take. If I offended any smokers, too fucking bad. It was gross when I smoked and when you quit it is like you are reborn. I support the ban. In fact they should put people in jail for life. This smoking propaganda is bad for children. Okay I am exaggerating making a point gays go to jail in Uganda and Nigeria for life as well as Russia.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Let me get this straight. You said it’s alright to smoke marijuana but a cigarette smoker should go to jail. Really? So would it be okay to smoke a joint at Seaside but you get fined for smoking a cigarette?
      The government has got to get out of the business of trying to regulate every facet of our lives.
      The council will pass this ordinance because Finch told them to pass it. There will be a press conference blowing smoke up everyone’s ass about Bridgeport being greener and guess what, another law WILL NOT BE ENFORCED.

  • Bob Walsh

    Bond Girl is right on the money with her fiscal assessment. Her Bond rating is A++.
    Finch and Sherwood will convince the council this will add much-needed revenue for the city. Then Finch will go out and hire a slew of special police officers to give out jobs to family members of the council.
    Everyone will win except the taxpayers.

  • Bob Walsh

    How is this for political rhetoric? “a body of evidence shows “children and adolescents are the demographic group most often observed using Bridgeport parks. By banning smoking in Bridgeport Parks we might contribute to reductions in smoking initiation among Bridgeport youth.” By banning smoking in Bridgeport Parks we might contribute to reductions!
    Yes, lets pass an ordinance based on these scientific facts.

  • Bepo In The Know

    Smoking bans in parks are a big issue right now. The NJ State Assembly recently voted to ban smoking in all state parks. And the law just went into effect last week in Philadelphia. Over 2,600 municipalities have banned smoking in parks including Chicago, Boston, NYC, Albuquerque, Atlanta, LA, San Francisco, Washington DC and Salt Lake City. This is not a frivolously made-up law, this is serious. Here is a good link from a few years ago that explains the reasons:
    1.usa.gov/1kyGhzK
    One reason missed in this report is the serious fire danger they pose in parks.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    There is no fire danger in Bridgeport parks. I read your link, it had a lot of good points and it stretched the truth a bit.

  • Anna Price

    As a Bridgeport resident, I would like to see this ban passed. It would make parks a cleaner, healthier place for our kids and pets to play. Bepo In The Know: Thanks for sharing the USA today article.

  • Godiva2011

    Smoking is a personal choice and certainly legal, so I’m neither against it nor advocating it. Prohibiting it in parks makes little or no sense, since I’m certain the police have much more serious issues to contend with rather than arresting/giving citations to smokers. This is just a scenario; let’s just say a smoker is approached by a non-smoker and told to put the cigarette out. The smoker refuses, and an argument ensues resulting in a physical confrontation. Let’s assume other people get involved and it turns into a full-scale brawl. Police come and there are arrests, all because of a smoker minding his/her own business. So much for a fun day at the beach. This might be a stretch, but let’s face it, it’s entirely possible. Why not just put those cigarette disposal canisters in the parks? It would seem more prudent to just pass an anti-littering bill that doesn’t just target smokers, but rather anyone who tosses cans, bottles, food wrappers, etc. on park grounds.

  • Godiva2011

    Just another thought–people cannot allow every special-interest group to chip away at their rights or we’ll all end up back in the dark ages of Prohibition. This is just a stretch, but are the vegans going to be the next group to rally to protest grilling hotdogs and burgers at the parks?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I think we should ban all grilling of any type because the smoke is offensive and they could cause a park fire. We should also ban really loud music because it affects peoples’ hearing. We should strongly enforce the alcohol ban in all parks even the ones no one goes to.
    BTW will the smoking ban be enforced during the visit of the Vibes to Bridgeport? Will the cops have to differentiate between pot smoke and cigarette smoke? The police job gets tougher every day.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    To that lady professor at SHU, why don’t you clean up your own house before you come to Bridgeport. BTW do you live here? Who gave you permission to send me an e-mail petition?
    When you find a cure for those drunken assholes you call students and their lack of caring for the people in the neighborhood they illegally inhabit, then come to Bridgeport.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Andy, Anna Price lives in Bridgeport. What she proposes has been passed in multiple cities around the country. She has nothing to do with drunken kids who cause havoc in neighborhoods. You’re making it her responsibility because she wants smoking banned in city parks?

      • Andrew C Fardy

        She is a professor at SHU so yeah she is part of the problem. Work on the kids who are having drinking problems or discipline problems. Yeah Lennie, even though I am a reformed smoker I am tired of people telling me how to live my life.
        In all seriousness, why not go after charcoal fires used for grilling, they give off as many toxins as cigarettes. I am tired of the feel-good laws that keep getting passed. Lennie, how is the curfew law working?

        • LennieGrimaldi

          How is she telling you what to do? You’re no longer a smoker, correct? What benefit is there for smoking in a park? But you think it’s okay to tell her what to do by policing beered-up kids who are not her responsibility to enforce.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            She is telling people what to do by pushing this no-smoking law in Bridgeport, it’s nothing more than a feel-good law. BTW what’s next, no smoking in your own car? The benefit is to the smoker and his addiction. Look, I know how harmful smoking is, I am dealing with COPD, no one’s fault but mine. It just seems to me there is a segment of the population that wants to tell the rest of us how to live, example what to eat what not to eat how big a soda I can buy and the list goes on and on. Sure I think it’s okay for me to have her clean up a problem at the university as she asked me to sign her petition.

          • Mustang Sally

            We simply have bigger fish to fry in Bridgeport, Lennie. Priorities. There are more emergent priorities we could utilize resources on. If this proposal was not a potential source of revenue it wouldn’t even be up for discussion.

          • LennieGrimaldi

            What’s wrong with a few minnow fries? Some quality of life fries?

          • Mustang Sally

            We do not have the luxury of choosing quality of life over basic survival here. Quality of life considerations are for the suburbs.

          • LennieGrimaldi

            Quality of life is big in some neighborhoods such as Black Rock, Brooklawn and North End. State Rep. Auden Grogins (full disclosure: I’m a supporter) speaks often about quality of life and has passed legislation to further quality of life on behalf of her constituency, be it cracking down on massage parlors or business fronts for drug trafficking. Ignoring quality of life is a huge turnoff to most taxpayers and businesses considering Bridgeport as a location. When neighbors on the Upper East Side defeated a prison proposed in their neighborhood, that’s a quality of life issue. When a proposal for a West End halfway house was defeated, that’s a quality of life issue. When a proposed marijuana dispensary was rejected by the Zoning Commission, that’s a quality of life issue. Elected city politicians, be they Rudy Giuliani or others, ran campaigns based on quality of life, some of them centered on health issues. So quality of life does matter, and not just in the suburbs.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Let’s see, some laws we don’t really enforce:
    1. Texting while driving
    2. Talking on the cellphone while driving
    3. Teenage curfew Law
    4. Seat belt law
    5 Jaywalking
    6. Dog License law, only 700 issued in Bpt
    7. Blocking intersection after light turns red
    Just to name a few.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Lennie, you know what quality of life in Bpt is? It’s when you call the police and someone actually shows up. You will not get a police response to vandalism calls, stolen cars, suspicious person (maybe three hours later). These concern me. Some will say well the vandalism is already done so who needs a cop but you know what, these can happen multiple times in your neighborhood and the car assigned to your area never finds out there is a problem.
      Am I worried about cops hassling old folks at St. Mary’s smoking? No I am not. Do we make traffic stops of people smoking in their cars while driving through the park? On and on, pretty soon these quality-of-life loons will look to ban smoking in your own car. These laws are suggested by people and passed by people wearing rose-colored glasses.

  • John Marshall Lee

    And locally, Andy.
    Our Charter has sections of the budget that are not what the City administration is doing: including providing 12 months of financial reports on revenues, appropriations and variances (except for one year of Finch’s terms in office, and that was only by special request); avoiding a solicitation of public opinion on Capital spending and an annual hearing on the same subject; Ordinances on City Council Stipends are currently totally disregarded; and after the Finch administration terminated the Internal Auditor, though showing the position in a table of organization chart through 2013, there is no annual report provided by the Finance Department on purchases and no audit of purchases every three years.
    Those are some of our rules governing fiscal responsibilities that are not followed! And they have allowed the City Council to get to the point where they do not care … and 15 of them used $30,000 of taxpayer money to pay amounts to each of the donors’ favorite non-profit groups when they were facing election and some even primaries. They did not discuss in Budget Meetings with minutes taken about votes! They managed to keep it all quiet until that June 2013 report completed after the audit showed these actions in June. Anybody upset at our watchdogs? Let’s see whether they say anything at the City Council meeting tomorrow evening. Time will tell.

  • Bob Walsh

    What could be worse than no enforcement is selective enforcement in all parks in the city. Is a Caucasian senior sitting on a park bench at St. Mary’s going to be as likely charged as a group of minority rowdies down at Seaside?

  • Mustang Sally

    There were two shootings in my neighborhood this weekend. That is what I am concerned with.

  • Local Eyes

    SEEN on a t-shirt in specific Bridgeport neighborhoods:
    Guns are a quality of life issue, too.

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