• Smoking Ban In Effect At Palm Springs Parks
  • In an attempt to protect local children from secondhand smoke, Palm Springs parks have gone cold turkey.

    As of July, Palm Springs has been enforcing a smoking cigarettes ban at all public parks, including its skate park and sports fields where many parents have complained of smoking cigarettes near children or by children.

    “It's a dirty habit, so I think it's a great idea. It'll help keep the parks a little cleaner,” said Monica Haro of Palm Springs, a former smoker and mother of three young children.

    “It would be nice not to see butts on the ground,” Haro's friend, Mireya Contreras chimed in.

    “As a mother, you try to protect your kids, but you can't do much about what other people do, like online cigarettes smoke. So I hope this law will help,” Contreras said as the two enjoyed a day at Ruth Hardy Park with their families.

    Signs have already been installed to notify park-goers of the new law, but more are expected to be posted in the coming weeks, likely at the entrances of city parks, said City Manager David Ready.

    California law already prohibits smoking cigarettes within 25 feet of any playground or sandbox on public/private school grounds, city, county or state parks, but Mayor Pro Tem Lee Weigel brought the issue forward in April because he felt it needed to be strengthened locally.

    The new policy now adds to Palm Springs' existing ordinance that was adopted in 1986 that bans smoking cigarettes in certain public areas like health care facilities, airport terminals and restaurants.

    But Cathedral City resident Delores House and her friends who regularly play tennis at Ruth Hardy Park are skeptical.

    “It's definitely a good thing that Palm Springs has banned smoking cigarettes at public parks, but how are they going to enforce it?” House asked. “Legislation without enforcement is no legislation.”

    City officials understand that it would be ridiculous to assign police to patrol parks just for this reason, but that doesn't make the law moot. Ready explains that the ordinance is really intended to serve as a “policy tool” meant to help nonsmokers.

    “If someone is smoking cigarettes at the park and they are asked to put out their cigarettes online that normally takes care of it,” Ready said. “But it is one of those things where if there is a continual problem the police can be called to respond.”

    Ready said Friday he is not aware of any citations for violating the smoking cigarettes ban being issued so far, but the law is enforceable on a complaint basis by residents or city park maintenance workers.