A large part of the beauty and function of a playground is the fact that it is a clean, safe place for children to play. This oasis of safety is breached when cigarettes enter the playground. The abundance of cigarette butts found in playgrounds around the country is increasing, a disturbing fact. The problem is twofold: second-hand smoke is known to be harmful, and when the cigarettes are thrown on the floor rather than put out in ashtrays children end up having access to them.
Forsyth Park, in Savanahh, Georgia, is victim to countless cigarette butts littering playground flooring. Rubber mulch is excellent for children, but the dirty cigarette butts get mixed in with the mulch, contaminating it with smoke and germs. Different cities have varying laws in regards to smoking in playgrounds. Smoking is allowed in Forsyth Park, but smokers may not light up within ten feet of an outdoor playground. There are obviously many people breaking the law because the mulch is littered with cigarette butts. It is possible that some cigarettes are blown in with leaf blowers and wind.
In order to rectify the situation the city must completely remulch the park. Rubber mulch flooring is the safest playground flooring available, and Playsafer mulch has been approved by the ASPCA. However, remulching requires tax dollars that would otherwise be put to good use. Those who shop rubber mulch can find great deals when purchasing bulk rubber mulch, but the expense is still one that can easily be prevented by smokers abiding by the rules.
Many cities and communities are considering banning smoking in or near parks altogether. In fact, the skateboard park in Warwick’s Veterans Memorial Park already is a tobacco-free zone and trustee Bill Lindberg recently announced that he is looking into expanding that ban.
Many cities spend hard-earned tax dollars on playground mulch in order to keep children safe, and smokers who contaminate the mulch work to reverse all the safety that the mulch enforces.