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Fulton Commissioners Vote to Make County Parks Smoke Free | Print |


By a unanimous vote at its September 21st meeting, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved a ban on smoking in county parks and recreation facilities.  The decision comes as part of the county’s effort to reinforce its strategic priority area of making sure that “All People Are Healthy”.
“Today, I am happy to state that Fulton County has shifted its efforts to ensure safe outdoor air,” said Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman John H. Eaves.  “The amendment to the ordinance regarding parks and recreational facilities will ensure the health and well-being of our citizens from the harmful and negative effects of secondhand smoke.”
The Board took the stance against smoking after considering significant evidence regarding the dangers of second hand smoke in outdoor spaces, how this exposure increases healthcare costs significantly and from resident input on the need to create smoke free environments.  According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, the estimated health care expenditures in Georgia from secondhand smoke exposure are $199.6 million annually. In 2016, the PICH Program conducted an opinion poll with 960 residents, who overwhelmingly at 76% favored smoke free parks and recreation areas. In addition to the passage of the ordinance, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH) Program will work collaboratively with the Department of Parks and Recreation to address the dangers of smoking and assist residents in achieving tobacco-free life styles through education and cessation efforts.  
"The approval of this resolution is a major accomplishment for Fulton County,” said Fulton County District 4 Commissioner Joan Garner, the resolution’s co-sponsor. “It is our aim to protect the welfare of Fulton County citizens and to ensure public health and safety for residents who utilize our parks and recreational facilities."
“We wanted to make sure to protect our citizens, especially our youngest ones, from the dangers of secondhand smoke,” said Fulton County District 3 Commissioner Lee Morris, a co-sponsor of the resolution.  “We are pleased that this demonstrates our county’s continued commitment to public health.”
“This is a wonderful example of the leadership Board members continue to take regarding this very important health matter and represents a significant collaboration between the Fulton Department of Health and Wellness and the Department of Parks and Recreation,” said Kathleen Toomey, M.D., M.P.H., District Health Director.  “It’s been proven that second-hand smoke poses serious health problems, especially for infants and children, but also for adults.  I applaud the decision to remove the hazard of smoking from our County’s parks and recreational areas.”
Violators of the ordinance could be charged with a misdemeanor and subject to a $1000 fine and up to 60 days in jail.  

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