D.C.’s delegate to Congress today asked the National Park Service to ban smoking on all NPS parks, sites and trails in the District.
In her request, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) cited Department of Interior Director Order #50D that provides superintendents with the authority to ban smoking in NPS units.
“This issue was brought to my attention by several constituents who have expressed concerns about smoking in NPS parks in D.C. I agree with their concern that residents and visitors should be able to enjoy our parks free of health risks, including second-hand smoke, which contributes to asthma, bronchitis, cancer and other severe health conditions. One should not go to an NPS park to enjoy the outdoors and find smoke instead of fresh air. Freedom from second-hand smoke in the outdoors is particularly important in big cities like D.C., where pollution and traffic congestion already contribute to health conditions similar to those caused by second-hand smoke,” Norton wrote to NPS Regional Director Steve Whitesell.
Some residents have been lobbying the D.C. City Council to ban smoking in the city’s parks that are within 25 feet of a playground. The majority of parks in the district, though, are managed by NPS and not the council.
“Implementing this policy in our parks here is particularly important at a time when the D.C. population is growing by over 1,000 residents per month and when many of these residents are young parents with children. The well documented health risks associated with second-hand smoke converge with D.C.’s unfortunate number of smoking-related health risks and deaths. Our city has long benefited from our many NPS parks, and my constituents reap the benefits of the nature that NPS parks provide,” Norton continued, asking for an “early response” to her request.