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Smoking in parks

(Photospin)

With the mayor's signature, tobacco will be banned on playgrounds and ballfields and in skate parks where children frequent, but not on Lincoln trails and golf courses.

The Lincoln Parks and Recreation and Health boards have been working on rules for tobacco use and smoking in city Parks and Recreation facilities for the past seven months.

Both boards met this week to make recommendations that will go to Mayor Chris Beutler for final approval.

Areas to be designated as tobacco- and smoke-free include playgrounds, skate parks, picnic shelters, swimming pools, ballfields, the Jim Ager Memorial Junior Golf Course, Pioneers Park Nature Center and outdoor performance venues including Pinewood Bowl.

The new ban does not apply to trails, dog runs and other public golf courses.

The goal is to promote health, safety and wellness, particularly of children and families, according to a document provided by Parks and Rec.

The rules, which will be passed by mayoral order, are not laws but guidelines officials hope are "self-policing."

Nearly 57 percent of the more than 2,500 residents who took a survey supported a smoking and tobacco-use ban in city-owned parks.

Health officials say they get complaints regularly from people who don't want smoking allowed at playgrounds, ballfields and other places children frequent.

"There were a fair number of comments related to government overreach, but also ones that wanted to protect children and families," said Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department Director Judy Halstead.

Once approved, officials say they will post signs in nonsmoking areas.

Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson said people who smoke in posted areas will be politely asked to put out the cigarette or leave.

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Reach Jordan Pascale at 402-473-7120, jpascale@journalstar.com or follow him @LJSPascale.

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