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OKC parks could be declared tobacco-free


OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City may be restricting the right to light up.

This week leaders in Oklahoma City will consider whether to declare all city parks tobacco free.

Those supporting the change say it’s simply meant to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Oklahoma City’s idea isn’t unique.

Right now almost two dozen cities and counties across the state, including Edmond and Norman, ban tobacco use in city parks.

Still, not everyone agrees it’s a good idea.

Grilling lunch with the family at Stars and Stripes Park, Levi Williams doesn’t want the city declaring all its parks tobacco free.

“You know, this is America. We do have some rights. We should make our own decisions,” Williams said.

“I think more rules make bigger problems,” Isaiah Thatcher said.

Thatcher came to the park to play with his kids.

He agrees a tobacco ban is a bad idea.

“If I see someone smoking next to my kid, I’ll talk to them but I don’t think laws are the answer,” Thatcher said.

On the other hand, a majority of families who came to the park support a tobacco restriction.

“Our restaurants are starting to be smoke-free. It’s great for parks to be as well,” Sarah Ault said.

“Not everyone likes to smoke or be exposed to second-hand smoke,” Schelerria Whaleen said.

“Kids want to play free of smoke,” Jane Sutter said, with the Boys and Girls Club.

Those who support a smoking prohibition argue it’ll also keep parks cleaner.

“Cigarette butts are the worst litter there is,” Sutter said.

“As a city we need to take steps to address sky-high smoking rates,” Councilman Ed Shadid said.

Councilman Shadid concedes for the time being, the policy won’t have any teeth.

There won’t be any punishment for those who light up.

“We’re waiting for an opinion from the attorney general on what enforcement is possible, but in the meantime, we’re going to have a policy to be tobacco-free in parks,” Shadid said.

The move would cost the city around $20,000 to put up signs informing people of the policy.

Again, it would not include a penalty if people didn’t obey.