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Smoking ban lands in the rough

Times Staff Writer

Moved by health concerns, the Los Angeles City Council took the first step Friday toward a total ban on smoking in most city parks but exempted golf courses after it was warned that the city might lose money from greens fees.

The council asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance expanding on a 2004 law banning smoking on city beaches and a 2002 law prohibiting smoking within 25 feet of playgrounds, ball fields and picnic areas in parks.

Representatives of the American Cancer Society, American Heart Assn. and American Lung Assn. backed the “curb to curb” ban, which would set aside smoking areas in some of the city’s 390 parks.

“By protecting our children from secondhand smoke and making our parks safer and more enjoyable to families, we are heading in the right direction,” said Dora Gil, advocacy director of the American Heart Assn.

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Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, the mother of a young child, had a personal reason for supporting the ban.

“With a 3 1/2-year-old, I spend a lot more time in parks now than I ever did,” Greuel told her colleagues. “It’s just amazing to me that anyone would even consider smoking in a park. It’s supposed to be about going out into the open fresh air.”

But resident and former smoker Donna Pearman testified by a video feed from Van Nuys that the council was going too far. “This is an encroachment on smokers’ rights,” she said. “Parks are on the outside. This is a terrible law.”

The council tentatively agreed to exempt golf courses at the request of Kevin Regan, assistant general manager of the city Recreation and Parks Department.

“There is a tradition of golfers oftentimes smoking in specific areas of a golf course and we don’t want to have any effects on our revenue,” Regan said.

Councilman Dennis P. Zine joked that the exemption might make sense in some strange way.

“So they balance the smoking, which is harmful, with the golf, which is exercise,” Zine said.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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