Duluth first in Gwinnett to have tobacco-free parks

Staff Photo: John Bohn
Taylor Park in downtown Duluth will soon feature signs proclaiming the area to be smoke free.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Taylor Park in downtown Duluth will soon feature signs proclaiming the area to be smoke free.

DULUTH — Resident Jerry Robb doesn’t smoke, dip or chew, but he thinks the city’s recent decision to designate parks as tobacco free is “ridiculous.”

“It’s a little too much government in our lives,” Robb said. “Where do you draw the line? If it’s that bad for you, then they just ought to make smoking illegal and be done with it.”

Robb reacted Tuesday to news from Monday’s city council meeting in which the city’s park director presented signs that would go up in all parks and facilities saying, “Young Lungs at Play.” The signs designate that all city parks and buildings in Duluth are tobacco free. While other cities have smoke-free parks, Duluth is the first city in Gwinnett County to include all tobacco products.

Kathy Marelle, the city’s parks director, said the municipality aims to “provide a quality atmosphere for our young people and senior adults. Our goal is to provide pristine facilities and quality programs to these groups, and this goes a long way in helping us achieve that.”

Robb said he understands that using tobacco “can influence children, but I grew up in the 50s, and I was always around smoke. We all made it.”

Added Robb: “It’s just getting out of hand. While they’re at it, they ought to ban sugar in parks. That’s bad for you. And keep cars away from parks because of the exhaust.”

Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Lasseter, whose district includes Duluth, agreed with Robb.

“I am a smoker, and I think most smokers can be courteous,” Lasseter said. “I think if they would just provide an area at the park for tobacco it would be a better solution.”

Added Lasseter: “Government always likes to tell us what we can and cannot do, and I don’t think we have the right to give or take away someone’s personal business if what they’re doing is legal.”

“I’m just wondering what the thinking is on this one,” Lasseter said.

Marelle said she takes great pride in the fact that Duluth is the first city in the county to make their parks tobacco free, but gave credit to the mayor and city council for giving their full support to the program.

Other items discussed at the city council meeting include:

The Red Clay Theatre roof replacement received six bids, four of which met the planning committees approval. Of the four bids, the committee looked at the two lowest bids, with both having exceptional reviews. However, the lowest bid specialized in residential repairs. The recommendation went instead to the second-lowest bidder, Ideal Building Solutions, which was awarded the bid not to exceed $30,000.

The city council passed a motion to include 22 events to be sponsored or co-sponsored by the city, which waives food vendors from having to get food permits. The list of 22 also includes 13 events where alcohol will be permitted. Concern was raised over sponsoring some events where alcohol was included in what should be a family-friendly environment, but the measure passed. It was also brought up to include Flicks on the Bricks events to be allowed to have alcohol, but the motion was not seconded to be able to move onto a vote.

Duluth High School’s Navy JROTC led the Pledge of Allegiance, but it was also announced the group will have its annual Area Management Inspection on March 27, which will include review of administration procedures, cadets, how things are run in the unit, and pass and review ceremony, one of the military’s long-held traditions.


lvilledude2010 3 years, 2 months ago

Grayson parks have had those signs for years, I helped put them up and parents still smoke and chew tobacco. The Gwinnett County School system has those signs in the school and outside the school but parents go under the bleachers during football games and smoke all the the time and employees do it on the job. Also School System coaches and recreation coaches chew tobacco on the fields all year long in every county. An unless it is enforced those signs are just another way for a politician to score brownie points with the public. Why waste the taxpayers money on signs that nobody is going to enforce?


Mack711 3 years, 2 months ago

As a non somker it is hard of some to understand why a smoker can not smoke in the open air of a park. Should a person want to smoke, then move away from the crowd that does not want to smoke. Make a designated area away from others so that the smoker can enjoy the park as well. Inside a confined space this makes sense but not in the open air away from the non smokers. Does anyone know of a penalty for somking in a park? Can it be enforced, probably not as shown in the previous comment.


Say_that_again 3 years, 2 months ago

That's a good one! As if "open air" did not allow smoke to be carried by the breeze. For that matter the obviously false assumption that smokers have the common sense to "move away from the crowd", probably placing them in the path of non-smokers. Almost every time I go to a store, people are smoking just outside the door, some so addict they are getting a few puffs while walking to the door, others just stepped outside because they could no go any longer without their nicotine. I am amused by the idea that rules are made up just to make us look more liberal. We have rules like this because lack of common sense.


jjbod1 3 years, 2 months ago

Mack711 I am also a die hard EX smoker, cant stantd the things. But i also agree with you. If some one wants smoke outside, it should be there right, as long as they dont blow it in someones face, and they dispose of the butts properly. This country is starting to go to far in taking away peoples personal rights, and it needs to stop. I also feel that if you own a bar or restaurant, it should be your choice to alow smoking. If you don't want to deal with it, don't go there, and dont work there. I choose not to smoke, therefor i also choose to stay away from those who do. It really simple.


BuzzG 3 years, 2 months ago

So much for being the "land of the free." We have become the land of control freaks.


Kent 3 years, 2 months ago

For all of you who who think it is their right to smoke in a public park, then why do I always see cig butts whenever I walk in a Gwinnett county park. Guess aliens landed and flipped their butts on the ground. Also, all I have to do is go to my mailbox and look at the butts scattered up and down the road. You smokers who do this are addicted inconsiderate low life pigs. Too bad a rule to not smoke in parks and school grounds is for all practical purposes is not enforceable


R 3 years, 2 months ago

Butts on the ground, Butts on the ground, there you go lookin like a FOOL with your Butts on ground...

Butts on the road, in the yard, butts in the drive, butts in the air on highways at 60 + mph. Yeah can’t say I haven't been tempted at a stop light to get out, pick one up from the ground that was tossed by a driver right in front of me, flick it back through the window and pray it would damage clothes or upholstery on the way back to its former owner…
But that doesn’t happen around every smoker.

It seems we have gone overboard with actions against smokers; it’s legal, so give them a spot to do so AWAY from those of us who for medical reasons can't tolerate it or just don’t want it. Then REALLY bust those who litter' so we don't waste time and expense on foolishness for political gain.

One just has love all the focus against smokers and some of the vitriol is probably coming from those who just championed Sunday sales. Think about it, you really can legislate morals, it’s done every day - you just can’t legislate RELIGION. (though some try endlessly)!


dman 3 years, 2 months ago

lvilledude2010---Gwinnett County Parks property are NOT Tobacco free. Only the playgrounds, the actual playing fields and buildings (the 20 ft rule) are for right now. If you did put up signs that say NO SMOKING, then they were incorrect. Read the Park Ordinances, there is NOTHING in there about No Smoking on Park Property. Now, I agree with you. They should be Smoke Free. If a parent can't stop smoking for a couple of hours while their child plays a game or has practice, then obviously they have an issue to resolve; called SELF-CONTROL. Courtesy and Common Sense is no longer around us.


coffeepuppet 3 years, 2 months ago

I like being able to go to a park, or anywhere for that matter, and without the smell cigarette smoke. I also understand the side of the smoker, having smoked for a number of years. But is this only a matter of smoking or tobacco? Is it second hand smoke or fresh air? My park, your park?

My wife has sinus trouble which is aggravated by the smoke. Also by perfume and cologne, cleaning products and anything else that has strong odors. We typically go out of our way to avoid some of these places. From time to time we stumble into one and we move on quickly as possible.

There are many other things that are offensive to some but not others. It was at the last Duluth Fall Festival were it seemed we were being followed by a man who did not know the power of his own body odor. He would bring tears to your eyes. Cigarette smoke would have been a relief.

Tobacco can be offensive to some, OK I get. But what is offensive to others? Language can be offensive; so maybe all conversation and hand signs should be banned at Duluth parks. Pets, to many people will not clean up after them, so they have to go. Food, snacks, and drinks; the packaging doesn't find it's way to the trash cans, sorry no more. That's why there are restaurants. And when I think of it, since smokers think the world is their ashtray. I don't mind if you smoke, but from now on filtered cigarettes should be a thing of the past. That would really help keep the parks and streets clean.

Sorry, but I think it is sad we need laws to make others mind us, because we won't mind our own business.


NewsReader 3 years, 2 months ago

I want a no farting zone. I'm really sick and tired of going to the park and watching my kids play ball, and some noxious fume fills my nostrils. I want a "NO FARTING" sign posted at all parks. If you're going to pass gas, pass it in your own car or in your own home, and on your own time. Don't do it on my time or anywhere within close proximity of my space.

Seriously, this is really stupid. We have so many other issues at hand, like people breaking into your vehicle, perverts lurking about (yes, they've been busted for such vile behaviors in a public park), and the like, and murder (yes, bodies were found several years ago in George Pierce Park). Why in the world does anyone care about somebody having a smoke outdoors?


Sthrnldy 3 years, 2 months ago

Bless their hearts, those dirty black lungs could use some fresh outdoor air!

If we can't have Occupy deadbeat free parks, then what is the point!


notblind 3 years, 2 months ago

We just walked 1/2 a mile up the sidewalk and back. There were probably 10 cigarette packs laying around. The same jerks that throw their packs out the car window would also not hesitate to throw their beverage container or their fast food bag out the window.


mshendrickson 3 years, 2 months ago

What you choose to do to your body should not infringe on my right to access clean air. If someone chooses to eat unhealthy in a park, that is their choice-It does not harm my body. Second-hand smoke, on the other hand, is very harmful to the health of others. Smokers take that right away from non-smokers and helpless children. I think it's very selfish, disgusting and inconsiderate of others. Also, cigarette butts become a nuisance to clean and is harmful to the environment. Tobacco free parks benefits everyone. Allowing people to smoke in the parks benefits no one. Is it so difficult for you smokers to go to a park for a couple of hours without smoking? Is it really that bad to just breathe clean air while at the park? No one is saying you can't smoke the rest of your lives away, but just be considerate and mindful of other park goers while you are there. The parks are about promoting a quality of life for everyone. The park should not your personal ashtray. I am so happy the City took a stand on this issue and stood up for the rights of young children and non-smokers. We are likely to see this trend across the State so be prepared. They are doing us all a favor so you should be thanking them!


Veryconcernedcitizen 3 years, 2 months ago

Common Sense or Uncommon Sense? A majority of the population that uses the parks are children and folks trying to live a healthier life. With that being said I think it is not unreasonable for smokers to chew on some gum or bite on a straw for a few hours while their kids play. Really I don't care how they get their oral fix (with a few exeptions:) as long as I am not smelling that nasty smoke. No one is telling them they can't smoke. They just can't smoke in government funded parks. If the smokers have a big problem with that then don't use the parks. Simple as that. Show me in the Consitution where it says the government shall not abridge your right to smoke, smell like an ashtry, and ruin other citizens park experiences?


R 3 years, 2 months ago

Please be careful, your Constitutional claim can be flipped on its head in the opposite direction. Please show us all where your right to the use of a park requires complete exclusion of smokers there from? It could probably be stated that park users could do without condescending attitudes, as it may ruin their personal experience. I don’t smoke and for medical reasons can’t be around them for long, but even I can make minor adjustments with some smoke free regions and believe the current policies are turning into obsessions not seen since prohibition.

There seems to be a disturbing trend with our government bodies as they continue to pass ever more restrictive “solutions” on the legal activities of other law abiding populations because they in the end will follow the law, while at the same time failing with respect to actual illegal activities – undocumented persons is just a quick case in point.

Just enforce what’s in place now, you’ll find more laws really aren’t needed. But it is easier to say I passed a law …


notblind 3 years, 2 months ago

The irony of the situation is that the government want's to enact all the anti-tobacco regulations while at the same time all the tobacco settlements and tobacco taxes have been a huge boon to the government. Personally, I think that tobacco use is the most foolhardy activity a person can engage in but the tobacco executives, oncology professionals, many lawyers, and lots of other people make their living off the tragedy of tobacco related cancers. Plus there is the positive benefit to the Social Security system for all these tobacco users to pay into the system but die before they get their benefits.


jbanks2 3 years ago

The smoke being billowed out by passing automobiles, planes, trains and chimneys are more of a concern to me than tobacco... This ordinance is not to “provide a quality atmosphere for our young people and senior adults...” or it would be expanded far beyond tobacco... It is nothing more than a control mechanism over the people... and as long as the people kowtow to this type of tyranny the longer it will go on... Stop the stupidity and stand up, make the government kneel to the people...


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