City May Ban Smoking In Parks

A ban on smoking in City of Houston parks could soon go into effect as officials try to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Last week, Houston Mayor Annise Parker implemented a ban on open flames in city parks. This week, she extended that ban for an indefinite period and says she is in favor of adding smoking to the list of prohibited activities.

“There’s already a ban on littering, so anybody who throws a cigarette butt down in a park is violating the law. The issue is whether we can effectively enforce that. What I need from Houstonians, as I asked of Houstonians during the water conservation measures, for all of us to stop and think about what we’re doing.”

Parker says there’s no reason for people to toss cigarette butts on the ground anywhere, but it’s particularly dangerous
in parks.

Councilmember Anne Clutterbuck suggested the smoking ban and says it would be a temporary ban in effect while the drought continues in extreme conditions.

“It’s not a comment on smoking or the morality of it. But it’s more a comment on the use of any flame in our city parks during a state of emergency.”

Mayor Parker says she could issue a smoking ban in parks as soon as the end of this week or beginning of next. In the meantime, she’s asking citizens to voluntarily comply. Earlier this week, firefighters put out a fire in Levy Park in the Upper Kirby District that they say was caused by a cigarette butt thrown on a mulch pile.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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