City Councilman considers proposing smoking ban in Seattle parks
Four years after Washington state voters passed a smoking ban, pushing smokers out of restaurants and bars outside, a Seattle City Councilman is considering taking the next step.
Councilman Tom Rasmussen said he’s considering proposing a ban on smoking in Seattle parks.
The measure would likely be controversial.
“Am I going to have to leave the planet to smoke?” said an alarmed Robert Mott, as he sat on a bench at on Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park on Wednesday, smoking a cigarette.
On Thursday, Rasmussen, who chairs the council’s Parks & Seattle Center committee, began testing the waters, posing a question on his Facebook page , “I chair the Seattle City Council’s Parks Committee. Several people have suggested banning smoking in our parks. Do you think this is a good idea or not, or what?”
Rasmussen said in an email to the PostGlobe, “I am considering introducing this to the City Council and I posted the questions on my Face book because I wanted to hear what people have to say.”
“Secondly, the ban would eliminate the exposure of tobacco smoke to others in our public parks,” he wrote. “Many cities now ban smoking in parks and at city beaches. Over 100 cities and towns in California now ban smoking at parks and beaches. Puyallup and Gig Harbor already have such a prohibition.
“If this is introduced it will be discussed at public meetings and we would have at least one public hearing before the Council took any action,” he wrote.
In another email, he wrote a smoking ban was included in the Strategic Action Plan completed by the parks department last year: “provide recreation opportunities for individuals and families that support physical fitness and health, including encouraging healthy lifestyles; increasing opportunities for pedestrian and bicycle safety; encouraging and creating opportunities for healthy eating choices; including in the Code of Conduct a ban on smoking in parks; increasing youth/teen/senior participation; and increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to use our parks and participate in our programs.”
The plan was adopted by the parks department after community outreach, he said. ”While the Department apparently can ban smoking administratively it has not done so and for that reason I am raising this issue now to ensure that this does not fall by the wayside.”
Metro Parks Tacoma spokeswoman Nancy Johnson said a proposal to ban smoking in that city’s parks is also being considered by the Tacoma City Council.
At least among a handful responding on Facebook, the idea is getting support:
One wrote, “Tom! I was just thinking how unpleasant it was to be sitting next to a smoker yesterday when at the beach at Madison Park. “
Another wrote, “Just on the basis of maintenance, there would be a lot of butts left around that Seattle park crews would have to clean up.”
A third wrote, “How is that most smokers flunked the kindergarten lesson about cleaning up after yourself?”
At Cal Anderson Park, Farrell Carpenter lay on a blanket with her baby. “It would be nice to not have smoke blow in my face when I walk,” she said.
Murakami is a former City Hall and neighborhoods reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer