Southwest Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson said he noticed that WellStar Cobb Hospital had signs banning tobacco use on its campus when he went there for treatment last year.
“I thought it made a lot of sense,” Thompson said. “I think it’s a matter of public health.”
Thompson has proposed adopting the policy at the county’s 77 parks, as well as outside its buildings. Smoking is already banned inside county buildings.
The county’s parks department is surveying 60 to 70 groups that use the parks, including sports organizations and groups that sponsor arts-related events, to see if they would support the proposed policy, said Eddie Canon, Cobb’s parks, recreation and cultural affairs director.
Canon said the survey information should be collected by the end of the month, after which the department will review the findings with Thompson.
The county wouldn’t spend much money policing smoking in parks, instead it’s educating user groups and asking them to deal with people who don’t follow the law, Canon said.
Not everyone supports the idea. Wynn McCurdy, a board member with the Mountain View Arts Alliance, which puts on performances and other projects with the county’s Art Place, doesn’t have a problem with smokers.
“I’ve never had a problem at one of our outdoor concerts,” said McCurdy, a non-smoker. “I’ve found that, if somebody is smoking a cigar and I don’t care for it, we just ask them to go somewhere they are not in the crowd. I have found that smokers have become much more considerate.”
McCurdy said the potential smoking ban is another example of government intrusion into people’s daily lives.
“I think it’s time for them to stop taking people’s freedom,” she said.
A number of cities, including Marietta and Kennesaw, have banned smoking in their parks, Canon said.
“Folks around the metro area are chiming in on this,” he said.
Thompson sees the proposal as a way to improve the county at little expense.
“I wanted to put something in there as a trial balloon,” he said. “All it would cost us is a little PR and some signs.”