New state legislation allows local municipalities to have greater control over the smoking policies in their own communities. The city of Asheville has talked about acting to ban smoking in public parks, a policy that was formerly pre-empted by state law. This potential policy would help to protect the health of our youth and adults by keeping them safe from secondhand smoke while they're enjoying themselves outside.
Although many people think that outdoor smoke just dissipates, the heavy particles released from smoking fall to the ground in a mushroom shape once the smoke cools down a couple of seconds after it leaves the cigarette. This creates zones filled with toxic particles that are so prolific that it would take tornado-strength winds to fully remove them from the area.
Exposure to secondhand smoke can have immediate effects like severe asthma attacks, headaches and nausea. It can also lead to severe health risks in the long term, including heart disease and cancer. On an environmental note, this policy would help to greatly reduce the amount of littered trash in our parks by removing cigarette butts — the No. 1 most littered item in the world — from parks.
I would encourage the city of Asheville to enact a policy making all of our public parks and all public city property 100-percent smoke-free, and I would also like to congratulate the state legislature for taking such a big step forward in protecting the health of the public.
— Ari Zitin