By Miriam Raftery
May 26, 2019 (Santee) – Lighting up a cigarette, cigar, or vaping device is now illegal in Santee parks, making the city the last in the region to outlaw smoking in public parks. Council smoked out an exception, however, for designated smoking sections at special events at Town Center Community Park, including summer concerts and the city’s annual Santee Salutes Fourth of July festivities, as well as Fido Fest.
The City Council voted 3-2 for the ban. Councilmembers Stephen Houlahan and Laura Koval voted no, but only because they supported an even stronger ban on smoking all of the time in city parks, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The move comes after the city banned smoking on hiking trails, but stopped short of a ban in parks. But after public pressure, the Council opted to restricting smoking in parks, too.
Councilman Ron McNelis proposed an area near the parking lot, where smokers already congregate, to avoid criminalizing those who want to smoke during a major event.
Communities Against Substance Abuse, Santee Solutions and others had advocated for a total ban, arguing that smoke cannot be contained in an outdoor venue, thus exposing others to health dangers from second-hand smoke.
Jean Duffy with Santee Solutions told Fox 5, “It’s a step in the right direction, a good step, but this could’ve been a more comprehensive ban.”