LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Seventeen parks across Lufkin provide plenty of open space where people can take in the great outdoors. From baseball fields and walking trails to playgrounds, fresh air is a hot commodity. If one local group has their way, smoking could be banned in these public places.
The Coalition wants to snuff out smoking in Lufkin city parks to cut down on second hand smoke. Stephen Kullback of The Coalition said, "It's a public health issue, it's a public education issue, it's costing our society a tremendous amount of dollars, time and energy...I think that it's time for a change."
The Texas Parks and Recreation Advisory Board along with The Coalition said the problem is bigger than just a few cigarettes butts. Don Hannabas of the Texas Parks and Recreation Advisory Board said, "I think a good bit of it is what we are, the message we are giving to our children. "
Hannabas isn't the only one focused on smoking's effect on area youth. Janet Taylor of The Coalition said, "All of us in drug prevention work really hard to provide safe and drug free activities and public places for our youth. Parks are where youth congregate for sports or to play and we felt like when they see adults using tobacco that sends a mixed message."
That's why Jim Porter, who regularly visits area parks, thinks prevention needs to start early. "I think it should be for the children's sake people dropping cigarette butts and things like this on the playground that children could get on and harm themselves."
The Coalition said almost 27 percent of East Texans currently smoke. They hope to cut that number even smaller by giving smokers fewer places to puff. "It's proven that the fewer places you have to smoke, then eventually the smoking rate goes down," said Taylor.
The Texas Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is drafting a letter to the Lufkin City Council requesting the smoking ban. The City Council will have the final say in the matter.