NAPLES, Italy — So there’s burning trash, and cars spewing too much carbon dioxide. But in an attempt to curtail the increased incidents of lung cancer in this southern Italian metropolis, Naples officials have banned smoking — outdoors.

Starting Sunday, the city has enacted an ordinance that bans lighting up in public parks or outdoor rallies and cultural events if children or pregnant woman are present.

“It’s funny that Naples would be the city to ban it. I mean, with all the burning garbage and all, that’s the problem?” asked an incredulous Hospitalman Dennis Lees, 23. “If they’re concerned about air quality, they should be concerned about the burning trash.

“I live in the barracks [at the Capodichino base,] and on any given day I can look out and see several smoke pillars, random fires happening.”

Naples isn’t really known for its stringent enforcement of laws. Drivers run red lights right in front of police; motorists on scooters ride past them wearing no helmets and continue on ticket-free.

Carlo Schettini, commander of the municipal police, was quoted Monday in the Naples’ daily newspaper Il Napoli as saying enforcement of the ordinance would be very “soft,” though more police are expected to patrol parks now that the ban is in effect.

“First you can’t smoke in bars, and now you can’t smoke outside. Outside,” emphasized Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Matthews, 33, who has been smoking for about 17 years.

“More than half of the police are going to be smoking while writing you the ticket,” he laughed.

Although the government has not erected any signs in affected parks alerting people of the change, fines will run between 25 and 250 euros. Flick a butt anywhere but a trash receptacle, and that’ll garner you another fine.

On Jan. 10, 2005, Italy imposed one of Europe’s toughest smoking bans, and prohibited folks from lighting up in all indoor public places that do not have designated smoking areas with their own ventilation systems.

Naples officials Sunday expanded the ban to the outdoors, in the presence of pregnant women and children, after health officials reported the death rate from respiratory illnesses and lung cancer was “significantly” higher in Naples than in the rest of the country, according to The Associated Press, citing the ordinance.

The ordinance bans smoking in the city’s 43 public parks if children under age 12 or pregnant women are nearby, as well as during demonstrations and cultural events such as open-air films, concerts and theatrical presentations, the AP reported.

Living in Naples is hazardous to one’s health, Dr. Silverio Martufi, head pulmonologist at the Monaldi hospital in Naples, said in August. Martufi said exposure not only is making people sick, but that Naples’ air quality is getting worse.

“Naples rates one of the worst cities for air in both Europe and Italy, along with Milan and Rome, and is getting worse and not better,” he had said.

In July, the U.S. Embassy in Italy issued an advisory warning U.S. citizens of possible health risks due to the rotting or burning trash strewn throughout Naples and its suburbs.

Collection of garbage is sporadic in the city and suburbs, something that has become par for the course here, and for the past several weeks now, piles have accumulated.

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