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Stub out those cigarettes.
On Tuesday, the Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to ban smoking in city parks - including Library Square, trails, ball diamonds, golf courses, soccer fields and the city cemetery. The ordinance also prohibits lighting up at light-rail stations, within 25 feet of bus stops and within 50 feet of gatherings of 100 or more people on city grounds.
The fine is minimal - no more than $25. And the city acknowledges enforcement will also be nominal.
Instead, "What we're really after is a cultural change," said Councilwoman Jill Remington Love. "We're really trying to create safe, healthy places with our parks."
The capital isn't a leader on the issue within Utah or the nation. Since 2003, at least nine Utah cities have prohibited smoking in parks: Clinton, Hyde Park, Logan, Midvale, Riverton, Sandy, South Jordan, Spanish Fork and West Jordan, according to Salt Lake City. And almost 600 cities across the country have restricted smoking outdoors, according to the surgeon general.
Still, council members expended some energy debating the plan by Mayor Rocky Anderson's office. They fretted that it wouldn't be enforced, that it didn't address bigger air-quality problems, that it should include more public spaces.
The council did expand the ban beyond what the Mayor's Office recommended. The original proposal limited the ban to parks and to within 50 feet of gatherings that draw at least 500 people.
The council toyed with banning smoking on all sidewalks, but that didn't make it into the ordinance. However, smoking won't be allowed on sidewalks around parks. Nor did council members go along with Soren Simonsen's suggestion to forbid smoking when it occurs near nonsmokers. The councilman nevertheless voted for the ordinance "with some difficulty."
"I don't think this is the best piece of legislation," he said, adding it could be more "logical and progressive."
And Eric Jergensen could persuade only Simonsen to go along with his plan to prohibit smoking within 50 feet of any outdoor location where people congregate. Jergensen noted secondhand smoke dissipates within 25 feet and that his plan offers a better way to balance the rights of smokers and nonsmokers.
"This is about secondhand smoke. It's not a moral judgment," Jergensen said.
But others saw the suggestion as too complicated.
"It needs to be simple if it's going to be effective," Councilman Carlton Christensen said.
The ordinance has encountered little opposition from the public. Supporters previously have lauded it as a way to discourage smoking and improve the health of nonsmokers. While the U.S. Surgeon General has determined there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, the health risks of secondhand smoke outdoors are not clear. Research shows a stronger link between health problems and indoor secondhand smoke.
Still, "I can't think of a worse place to be subjected to secondhand smoke than at one of our recreational areas," said Councilman Dave Buhler.
Added Councilwoman Nancy Saxton: "This is the right thing for all of those people who are sensitive to smoke."
When will ban take effect?
* The exact date is hazy because the ordinance must first be signed by the mayor and then published in the newspaper. City officials say that process could be completed in one to two weeks.