Cupertino park users can breathe a little easier starting next month, thanks to a smoking ban in recreational areas passed by the City Council on Tuesday night.
The council voted unanimously to enact the ban in and around up to 25 feet of any recreational areas, except in the case of private residences that border them, although a debate over where to draw the line led to removing provisions that would have also banned tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes.
“I don’t want to be a super nanny,” said Councilman Orrin Mahoney. He said he is against smoking, has never smoked himself, and even pointed to the death of his first wife at age 51 from lung cancer after years of smoking as to why he thought it was a serious problem.
Yet Mahoney said he couldn’t agree with banning electronic cigarettes, which he said could actually help smokers stop smoking and would not affect nearby park users. He also said he thought banning products like chewing tobacco, which will not affect those who are near the users, was problematic.
“So now we’re on the slippery slope thing," he said. "The next thing we’ll be saying is you can’t eat cheeseburgers in the park, because those are bad for you, and we’ve got things with childhood obesity, and we’re worrying about this, that and the other thing.”
Earlier, a representative from Breathe California asked the council to keep in the ban on tobacco products, because younger children might see older teens using chewing tobacco and think it’s “cool.”
The proposed ban was similar to one already adopted by Saratoga, according to Parks and Recreation Director Mark Linder. Other cities that have enacted bans on smoking in recreational areas include Sunnyvale, San Jose and Milpitas, as well as Santa Clara County. A state law already prohibits smoking near playgrounds and tot lots.
The ban came as a result of the city entering into an agreement in January with Santa Clara County to prevent tobacco use. Through that agreement, the city became eligible for $23,000 in grant monies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to use toward discouraging smoking and tobacco use. The money will be used for signs and other public education about the recreational area smoking ban.
“This issue is very important to me,” said Mayor Gilbert Wong. He took the idea of the smoking ban to city staff after hearing about it at a meeting of local mayors.
Councilman Barry Chang said he would be in favor of a city-wide ban on smoking in public areas, an idea that other council members said they would possibly favor as well. They asked city staff to investigate and present a proposal for the council in the future.