Austin, TX -- From now on if you are headed to one of Austin’s city parks, preserves or pools, you may want to leave the cigarettes behind.
A permanent smoking ban is now in effect.
For months the Austin City Council heard lengthy debates about the smoking ban. City council ultimately decided that the temporary smoking ban, started earlier this year, should remain permanent.
“When you’re taking away our rights to smoke outside in a park, it’s kind of like tightening the noose,” smoker Robert Ojeda said.
According to the City of Austin, workers picked up more than 37,000 discarded cigarette butts this year across Austin’s 251 parks.
Officials also said smoking can be especially dangerous during droughts.
Some smokers told KVUE News that they are fine with the change and that they can always find someplace else to smoke.
“You go to a public park to enjoy nature and to enjoy everything out there,” Eddie Cantu said. “You know people blowing smoke in your face is not something that I go out there to experience.”
The new ban does not apply to major events such as Austin City Limits or during the filming of movies or TV shows in parks.
It also does not apply to golf courses--if golfers are playing.
The penalty for smoking can be steep. Fines are up to $2,000.