Last month, the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD) and the Houston Public Library (HPL) announced plans to ban smoking and tobacco products at all of their locations across the City. The new policy is an expansion of Ordinance #2006-1054 Sec. 21-243, which was passed on October 18, 2006, and will apply to both interior and exterior spaces. This action is similar to what the Health and Human Services Department did years ago relative to their managed locations.
Existing City law bans smoking within 25 feet of a public facility, places of employment, bars and restaurants and at outdoor sports arenas and stadiums. The ordinance grants owners, operators and managers the authority to extend the existing regulations to any area of their properties. In addition, most of the City’s parks systems are currently smoke-free. However, the Houston Public Library is believed to be among the first large library systems in the country to implement this type of policy.
The Houston Public Library serves a diverse population with a large percentage of their daily programs targeted to children or families with children. “We want the residents of our city to think of each library location as a safe, healthy, family-friendly and welcoming environment. These “No Smoking Zones” will help us meet this goal,” states Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Houston Public Library Director
The new policy took effect at the downtown library location. All other libraries and parks facilities will become smoke and tobacco product-free the day after September 1st. There will be sign posted at each property notifying users of the ban. Enforcement will be administered by staff and, if needed, the Houston Police Department. The goal is to obtain compliance through education and warnings. Customers who refuse to comply will be asked to leave and, ultimately, may face the possibility of a municipal citation with a fine not to exceed $2,000.