Mayor Nutter has cleared the air for thousands of youngsters this summer with an executive order banning smoking at city recreation centers, playgrounds, and pools.

With too many young people lighting up, banning smoking in playground areas is the right idea. The measure carries no penalties because it is not a law approved by City Council, which could take longer to enact. But it sends the right public-health message to youngsters and adults.

Nutter rightly wants to reduce smoking among all city residents, especially adolescents and teenagers. Health officials estimate that smoking leads to nearly 2,500 deaths annually in Philadelphia. That's more deaths than those from homicide, HIV, diabetes, kidney failure, and stroke combined.

The latest smoking ban takes effect July 1. Anyone caught lighting up indoors or outdoors at more than 200 city rec centers will be kicked off the property.

Philadelphia follows New York, which recently made it illegal to smoke outdoors in many parts of the Big Apple, including Times Square. The New York ban includes a $50 fine. In New Jersey, some Shore towns have enacted beach smoking limits.

Nutter hasn't said whether the ban will be extended to large outdoor spaces such as Fairmount Park. A strong case can be made for a ban that protects park-goers from secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke has been linked to 50,000 deaths nationally.

Limiting smoking saves lives. It makes sense for Philadelphia.