The city of Boston will likely implement smoking bans in public parks in an effort to prevent litter, secondhand smoke, and encourage smokers to quit, the Boston Globe reported.
Last week, city officials passed an ordinance for a smoking ban and Mayor Thomas M. Menino is expected to sign it into law. The legislation would ban smoking cigarettes, marijuana, and other "lighted or vaporized" substances in all 251 parks, squares, cemeteries, and other open spaces run by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.
Boston would certainly not be the first city to pass such laws. According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, a California group that tracks the legislation, cities like New York and San Francisco have similar laws in addition to 900 other U.S. municipalities -- 20 of which are in Massachusetts.
Aside from Menino's signature, the law would also need to be approved by the city parks commission.
"We've been trying to curb the amount of smoking in our parks, which has spiked since colleges, hospitals, and many private buildings and other institutions have banned it on their property," said Antonia M. Pollak, commissioner of the Parks and Recreation Department. "It's the unintended consequences that smokers are migrating to the parks."
Councilor Matt O'Malley said the amount of residents who identify as smokers has decreased from 25 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2013.
"This will encourage smokers to smoke less," he said, adding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discovered that secondhand smoke causes 3,000 deaths a year from lung cancer and 46,000 deaths from heart disease.
"To completely avoid secondhand smoke, a person may have to move 25 feet away from the person smoking."
In 2004, Massachusetts banned smoking cigarettes in restaurants, bars, and other workplaces.
Maria Vargas, a bartender at Cigar Masters, thinks city officials is taking the issue too far.
"I just don't think it's fair," she said. "People shouldn't be discriminated against because they smoke. If people are outside in a public park, they should be free to smoke."