Alexandria To Post Anti Smoking Signs In Public Playgrounds
By Carla Branch
This summer, Alexandria will post signs in 35 public playgrounds asking people to refrain from smoking. The City Council approved the measure last night by a vote of 5-2, with Councilman Frank Fannon and Councilwoman Alicia Hughes voting no.
Councilwoman Del Pepper brought the proposed resolution forward at the request of the Alexandria Public Health Advisory Commission. “Since we first discussed this, we have worked closely with the city attorney to come up with wording that is just right,” Pepper said. “We are not banning smoking in public parks, playgrounds and bus shelters because we don't have that right: this is a Dillon Rule state.
“We wanted to encourage people not to smoke in these public places where others will suffer the impact of second-hand smoke. We particularly want to protect our children and that is why we are going to begin with our playgrounds,” Pepper said.
The signs will read: “For everyone's health, please consider not smoking in our parks and playgrounds.” The Alexandria Health Department will spend $5000 to print the signs for the playgrounds. They will be posted this summer and staff will report back to Council on their effectiveness in the fall.
“Depending on what that report says, we will consider posting signs in city-owned bus shelters,” Pepper said.
Fannon voted against the measure. “This is a free society and government should not be in the business of telling people how to behave when it comes to something that is legal such as smoking,” he said.
Councilman Rob Krupicka helped craft the compromise language for the signs. “This is the right thing to do and is in keeping with our strategic plan and our Eco City charter,” he said. “Everyone agrees that second-hand smoke is bad for those who are exposed to it. It is the right thing to do to protect our children from any health risk.”