Seattle parks become smoke-free on July 6

As of Monday, July 6, 2015, all Seattle parks will be smoke-free. Smoke-free parks further Seattle Parks and Recreation’s mission to provide healthful and welcoming places for all residents to enjoy.

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners unanimously recommended to approve a parks-wide smoking ban in May. The new rule will expand the existing smoking ban from within 25 feet of another park visitor to no smoking on any publically accessible park land. This is similar to rules in more than 1,000 other cities and jurisdictions nationwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Portland and San Francisco.

Enforcement of the new rule would primarily be a matter of education and will be entrusted to Park Rangers and the Seattle police officers. The enforcement protocol for the new rule was developed in 2012. This protocol does not include excluding people from a park because they are smoking.

Park Rangers will approach smokers and provide them with information on where they can smoke and a resource card with information about the policy and resources for help in quitting tobacco (if they wish to quit). The next level of enforcement would be a verbal warning, followed by a written warning. Seattle Parks expects a large percentage of smokers to voluntarily comply with the verbal requests or verbal warnings.

To report a non-emergency nuisance activity, the public should call the Seattle Police non-emergency line at 206-625-5011.

Park visitors who have been given a written trespass warning for smoking in a park can set up a meeting to dispute the claim by emailing Right2dispute@seattle.gov or by calling 206-684-4075.

Smoking is allowed on public rights-of-way, including sidewalks. For more information about the smoking ban, please visit the Seattle Parks and Recreation website at http://www.seattle.gov/parks/smokingban/.

 

Seattle Parks and Recreation opts for smoke-free parks

Acting Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams decided on Friday to ban smoking in all Seattle parks. Just yesterday evening, the Board of Park Commissioners voted 8-0 to recommend that the Superintendent enact a smoking ban.

The new rule would expand the existing smoking ban from within 25 feet of another park visitor to no smoking on any publically accessible park land. The smoking ban takes effect in 30 days.

The ban will be enforced by trained park staff who will issue verbal and written warnings. Park staff will have no authority to issue fines or exclude smokers from parks.

“Our mission as a park and recreation agency is to provide healthful and welcoming places for all residents to enjoy,” said Christopher Williams. “The smoking ban is about protecting the rights of everyone to have a smoke-free environment—particularly in parks, where communities gather to recreate, enjoy the outdoors or exercise.”

Seattle’s action follows similar bans in more than 1,000 other cities and jurisdictions nationwide, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland.

Enforcement of the new rule would primarily be a matter of education. The enforcement protocol for the new rule was developed in 2012 in conjunction with the Racial Disparity Project (then part of the Defender Association, now part of its advocacy successor organization in the Public Defender Association). This protocol does not include excluding people from a park because they are smoking.

Park Rangers would approach smokers to ask, “Did you know smoking is not allowed in parks?” and provide them with information on where they can smoke and a resource card with information about the policy and resources for help in quitting tobacco. The next level of enforcement would be a verbal warning. Seattle Parks expects a large percentage of smokers to voluntarily comply with these requests or verbal warnings.

The Park Board held a public hearing on the proposed ban on April 16 and a public comment period on the proposal ended on May 7. In response to comments at the hearing and to written comments expressing concerns that the ban would have a disproportionate impact on homeless people of color, Seattle Parks and Recreation agreed to mitigate the impact of the ban with the following provisions:

  1. No citation: The revised proposal eliminated the infraction citation (which has a $27 fee) that was originally proposed as part of the smoking ban enforcement strategy.
  2. Right to Dispute: Parks will create a process by which individuals can dispute a written trespass warning given for smoking in a park. This process will be included in a public information card to be handed out by either Police or Park Rangers when issuing a written trespass warning for smoking along with information on where people can smoke and information about smoking cessation programs.
  3. Enforcement Monitoring Committee: Parks will establish an Enforcement Monitoring Committee composed of 3-4 people, including a member of the Board of Park Commissioners, a representative from a human rights or civil rights organization, and a homeless advocate to review and monitor the impacts of the smoking ban. The committee will meet every 90 days so that any unintended consequences can be addressed quickly.

“We received many thoughtful comments from the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Seattle Human Rights Commission and others and we decided to alter our original proposal,” said Williams. “When many voices participate in conversations that shape public policy, the result is always better.”

The smoking ban is supported by several major partners of Seattle Parks and Recreation for health and environmental reasons.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease both locally and in the United States, so it makes sense to take actions that promote health and healthy environments in our public spaces,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Interim Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

“There’s no safe level of secondhand smoke,” said Matt DeGooyer, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Washington. “We are very excited to see Seattle Parks and Recreation taking this step. Actions like this continue the steady progress toward de-normalizing smoking and tobacco use, making outdoor spaces a safer environment for impressionable youth and anyone who enjoys breathing clean, healthy air.”

In addition to being unhealthful for people, discarded cigarette butts are a major source of park litter.

“Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, with an estimated 5 trillion discarded each year,” said Brice Boland, Washington State Field Manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “Cigarette butts were the #1 item found on Washington beaches during the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup. Filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic, and can take countless years to biodegrade. Cigarette butt filters are toxic waste. When wet, they leach out toxins which are lethal to fish.”

The smoking ban will take effect in 30 days, after Seattle Parks and Recreation files the change to the Parks Code of Conduct with the City Clerk’s Office and posts a notice of the change in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.

For more details about the smoking ban, please see this briefing paper.

 

Park Board postpones May 14 meeting; board to make recommendations on smoking ban & Cheasty trail on May 28

The Board of Park Commissioners has postponed its May 14 meeting and will discuss and make recommendations on both the proposed smoking ban in Seattle parks and on the proposed Cheasty Bike and Pedestrian Trail Pilot Project at its subsequent meeting on Thursday, May 28.

That meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Kenneth R. Bounds Board Room at Seattle Parks and Recreation Headquarters, 100 Dexter Ave. N.

Board members requested additional information from Parks staff and more time to review the public comments they have received about both proposals.

For the smoking ban, written comments can be submitted to rachel.acosta@seattle.gov until May 7.

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners is a nine-member citizen board created by the City Charter. Four members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council; four members are appointed by the City Council; and one member is a young adult appointed by the YMCA Get Engaged Program (http://www.leadershiptomorrowseattle.org/YMCA.asp).

 

The Board generally meets twice a month, normally on the second and fourth Thursday, to advise the Parks and Recreation Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council on parks and recreation matters.

 

Seattle Parks invites public comment on proposed smoking ban

Seattle Parks and Recreation is receiving public comment on its proposed smoking ban through May 7. A written briefing on the proposal is available here.

There are two ways to provide input:

  • Complete an online Mindmixer survey. Just click on the link and follow the prompts to respond to the question. The deadline is Thursday, May 7.
  • Send a written comment to the Board of Park Commissioners to rachel.acosta@seattle.gov. The deadline is Thursday, May 7.

The Board of Park Commissioners will discuss the proposed smoking ban at its regular meeting on May 14, and make a recommendation to the superintendent. The superintendent will take the Board’s recommendation into consideration, and issue a final ruling in mid- to late May.

Seattle Board of Park Commissioners to host public hearing on smoking ban

The Board of Park Commissioners will host a special public hearing on Thursday, April 16, to take comments on a proposed parks-wide smoking ban.

The Board of Park Commissioners public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Kenneth R. Bounds Board Room at Seattle Parks and Recreation Headquarters, 100 Dexter Ave. N.

The proposed new rule would prohibit smoking in all public parks in the city of Seattle. This ban would extend the original smoking prohibitions put in place in 2010, which banned “smoking, chewing, or other tobacco use…within 25 feet of other park patrons and in play areas, beaches, or playgrounds.”

“We are asking the Board of Park Commissioners to consider this issue because smoking is incongruous with our values of healthy parks and healthy people,” said Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams. “Visitors come to parks to enjoy healthful, outdoor recreation. When there are smokers in a park, it diminishes others’ ability to do that.”

The proposal to replace the current language in Parks Code of Conduct P 060 7.12.00 section 3.2.10 is as follows:

It is a violation of these rules for any person to smoke or light cigars, cigarettes, hookahs, tobacco, or other smoking material, within all publically accessible portions of property under Parks’ jurisdiction. For the purposes of this section, “smoke” or “smoking” means the carrying, holding, or smoking of any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, or any other smoking equipment.

The Superintendent may suspend this rule in writing for any permitted event not open to the general public, provided that no employees, children or animals are exposed to smoke, and provided further that such smoking shall not create any fire hazard or create any danger of damage to property, plants or any park feature.

Breaking the rule against smoking would result in a warning, followed by a possible park exclusion for repeated violations. The rule would not become part of the Seattle Municipal Code.

“There’s no safe level of secondhand smoke,” said Matt DeGooyer, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Washington. “We are very excited to see Seattle Parks and Recreation taking this step. Actions like this continue the steady progress toward de-normalizing smoking and tobacco use, making outdoor spaces a safer environment for impressionable youth and anyone who enjoys breathing clean, healthy air.”

In addition to being unhealthful for people, discarded cigarette butts are a major source of park litter.

“Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, with an estimated 5 trillion discarded each year,” said Brice Boland, Washington State Field Manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “Cigarette butts were the #1 item found on Washington beaches during the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup. Filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic, and can take countless years to biodegrade. Cigarette butt filters are toxic waste. When wet, they leach out toxins which are lethal to fish.”

Seattle Parks and Recreation would follow the lead set by many other major U.S. cities, including Portland, which passed a smoking ban in parks in February 2015. Other major cities that ban smoking in parks include New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease both locally and in the United States, so it makes sense to take actions that promote health and healthy environments in our public spaces,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Interim Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Following the public hearing, the Park Board will deliberate on the issue at its regular meeting on May 14, and make a recommendation to the superintendent. The superintendent will take the Board’s recommendation into consideration, and issue a final ruling in mid- to late May.

A written briefing on the proposal is available here. Those who would like to comment on the proposal, but are not able to attend the public hearing are encouraged to submit written comments. Written comments carry equal weight to oral comments. Comments can be submitted in writing to Rachel.acosta@seattle.gov until May 7.

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners is a nine-member citizen board created by the City Charter. Four members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council; four members are appointed by the City Council; and one member is a young adult appointed by the YMCA Get Engaged  Program.

The Board generally meets twice a month, normally on the second and fourth Thursday, to advise the Parks and Recreation Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council on parks and recreation matters.

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