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Butting out in Portland's public parks? Thursday, January 11, 2007

A smoker butts out his cigarette in Pioneer Courthouse Square on Jan. 11 after receiving a yellow warning card from square security. A smoking ban in Portland's living room came into effect on Jan. 1.

Less than two weeks after a ban on smoking in Pioneer Courthouse Square came into effect, Portland City Council is considering a motion that would further restrict smoking in public parks.

Smoking in the bus stops and MAX stations in Portland's living room was prohibited 2005, and outlawed throughout the square on Jan. 1. Now, a proposal initiated by Commissioner Randy Leonard would expand the ban to all city parks.

Diane Laughter, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for the American Lung Association of Oregon, speaks before Portland City Council as they debate a motion that would restrict smoking in public parks.

Public health agencies such as the American Lung Association and Multnomah County Health Department are supporting the ban as a means of reducing the incentive to smoke, especially for youth who see the example of adults smoking in parks.

Other city commissioners have concerns about the proposal. Applying the ban to all city parks would include golf courses and Portland International Raceway, says Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Other groups have some concerns about the proposal. Marc Jolin spoke on behalf of JOIN, which helps the homeless get off the street. He expressed concern that the law would be used unfairly against his constituents, but said he was comforted by the tone of the discussion during today's council meeting.

Given the concerns of the council, Commissioner Leonard softened the proposal. Now, it would prohibit smoking within 25 feet of picnic tables and playgrounds, and council is considering the possibility of establishing smoking sections at PIR and on golf courses.

The proposed legislation would amend City Code Chapter 20.12, Prohibited Conduct in Parks.

(below) Commissioner Randy Leonard, left, speaks about his motion to ban smoking in public parks at today's city council meeting.