By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Michael Nutter today signed an executive order extending the city’s smoke-free regulations to all city parks.
Under the order, which goes into effect immediately, smoking is prohibited in more than 125 Philadelphia neighborhood parks, including dozens in the sprawling Fairmount Park system, totalling 11,000 acres of public space.
Mayor Nutter says the policy protects the health and wellness of people and the environment.
“Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, and they can take more than a decade to biodegrade,” the mayor noted.
Deputy mayor Mike DiBerardinis, in charge of parks and recreation, says today’s order is a follow-up to the 2011 executive order the mayor signed eliminating smoking at city-run recreation centers, playgrounds, and pools.
“And there was a certain communal enforcement there,” DeBerardinis (standing at left in photo below) points out. “We didn’t write tickets, we didn’t threaten people — it just significantly decreased.”
Philadelphia is joining a growing list of big cities, including New York and Los Angeles, in prohibiting smoking in public parks.
After several years of debate, City Council passed an ordinance in 2006 making workplaces, restaurants, and bars smoke-free.
Just a few weeks ago, another ordinance was passed adding electronic cigarettes to Philadelphia’s existing ban on public smoking.