The new ordinance, if passed, would ban smoking cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars and pipes in Kennesaw’s 130 acres of public parks, which Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh called a “no-brainer.”
Kennesaw’s current smoking ban, which has been in effect since 2004, limits smoking to designated areas within the parks and has sparked conflict among park visitors.
“All the complaints are coming from the parks,” said Welsh. “People are in the parks to be active and to get healthy. They don’t want to be walking through cigarette smoke.”
The City Council’s proposal for these “breathe-easy parks,” a term used by Eaton-Welsh, appears to be mirroring neighboring cities’ plans by making all public parks completely smoke-free, something Mayor Mark Mathews fully supports.
“I think we have reached a point in our community that the residents care very much about their health and the health of our children,” Mathews said. “I support a ban in the parks and hope that the residents will embrace the policy if adopted.”
The council’s previous ordinance proposal in 2013, which would have banned smoking in all public places, was met with backlash by Kennesaw residents and was put on hold. Eaton-Welsh said this new proposal is completely different than the last.
Kennesaw would be the second city in Cobb to make its parks smoke-free. The city of Marietta has had smoke-free parks since 2005, while Smyrna and Powder Springs enforce smoking bans at outdoor concerts and other city events. Acworth and Austell do not ban smoking in parks, nor does the county.
“A smoke-free Cobb County is something that has been discussed for years but never formalized,” county spokesman Robert Quigley said.
Eaton-Welsh encourages those with questions to attend a public hearing August 18, when the proposal will be discussed and voted on.