The city is considering banning smoking on four blocks of Centennial Mall in conjunction with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s total smoking ban that begins in January.
But before that decision is made, the Parks and Recreation Department’s Advisory Board wants input from the public through email or letters.
Board member Bob Ripley said his nonsmoking friends will applaud the ban, while his smoking friends will point to the dwindling public places where people can smoke.
UNL will become a smoke-free campus in January. Since the northern part of Centennial Mall is bordered on three sides by campus property, it makes sense to make it smoke-free also, said Lynn Johnson, Parks and Recreation director.
Banning smoking will also help curb cigarette litter in the mall, he noted.
That area of the mall is also bordered by St. Mary’s Catholic School and the Lincoln Children’s Museum, he pointed out.
The ban would apply to four blocks of Centennial Mall, between K and M streets and between P and R streets.
Mayor Chris Beutler made portions of the city’s parks tobacco-free in 2011, including areas frequently used by children and families and areas used for public gatherings.
People can smoke at Tower Square, Iron Horse Park and government square in downtown Lincoln, Johnson said.
The department's tobacco ban in parks is self-regulating, said Johnson. You cannot be cited by police for breaking what is a guideline.
“Hopefully someone offended by smoking will point out the signs,” he said.
That is the same method UNL is going to use to enforce its tobacco ban, he said.
Though she acknowledged the public benefits of a smoke-free area, Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird suggested the board seek public input before making a final recommendation to the mayor at a mid-December meeting.
The department may also be able to put a sign up on the mall, telling people about the potential tobacco ban, and seek input, much like a zoning action in progress.