Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Shoreline parks smoking ban survey draws pointed views

by March 19th, 2012

With a planned discussion of a recent citizen survey and a presentation of what could be the final draft of a new ordinance, the Shoreline City Council March 19 is poised to move one step closer to a scheduled vote March 26 to ban all tobacco use in all parts of all the city’s parks and other city outdoor recreation spaces. Enforcement would be voluntary, by parks patrons, not police, and city costs for signs would range from $3,000 to $5,000. Although almost 70 percent of respondents in the online survey supported the proposed blanket smoking ban in Shoreline city parks facilities, comments varied widely. In a special information packet on the policy, for the council’s review March 19, city staff provide the survey results including a broad sampling of residents reactions; while also sharing the proposed final draft of the smoke-free parks ordinance.

In the non-scientific survey accessed at the city’s Web site, ban opponents argued that smoking is legal, not very harmful outdoors, and that peer-to-peer enforcement would be risky. Among their comments:

  • “Tobacco users are also taxpayers. Restricting use of the park to not allow tobacco an infringement on peoples’ rights.”
  • “…expecting citizens to police others is asking for trouble…I can understand banning smoking indoors, but banning outdoor smoking is going way too far.”
  • “There is plenty of fresh air outdoors and plenty more important issues to take up. ..I have children under 18 and I don’t smoke. I am tired of the ‘Nanny State’ and Shoreline seems to love it. Quit saving us from ourselves.”
  • “If I were at the park with my family, and someone were smoking near enough to us that it was bothering me, I would simply either ask them to move, or move myself. Let’s practice common sense and courtesy, not paranoid over-protection.”
  • “The city cannot even enforce animal control in the city limits, the parks are just full of pet droppings.”
  • Others argued for a middle ground.

    • “I would be strongly in favor of banning smoking in the areas used primarily by children – the playground areas and sports fields. People who smoke should be allowed to smoke in other parts of the parks.”
    • “In areas that are not ball fields, courts, or playgrounds, I don’t really have a problem with it. But not around the kids. And smokeless tobacco I could really care less about because there isn’t any second hand smoke to contend with.”
    • “I have long noted the inability of both King County and later Shoreline city to adequately enforce existing leash and clean-up laws for dog owners. I can’t imagine that a prohibition of tobacco products would be enforced either…Maybe eliminating smoking from children’s play areas and ball fields within Shoreline parks would be beneficial, and possibly enforceable, but everywhere in parks…seems to be a bit of overreach: it just would not be enforced and therefore would result in yet another example of cheapening laws in general by having on the books specific laws that are not adequately enforced.”

    Supporters of the Shoreline parks smoking ban were as concerned about the litter of cigarette butts as second-hand smoke.

    • “Smokers, almost without exception, just drop their cigarette butts and step on them to put them out…creating litter that more civic-minded users, and parks employees, have to clean up. The filters seem to last forever, and carelessness in extinguishing the butts could have consequences, especially during the drought days of summer.”
    • “I have partnered with a Service Dog…I have observed a number of puppies and young dogs…ingest cigarette butts. That will lead to a very upset stomach and a trip to the veterinarian. For me, a face full of smoke leads to a coughing spell, that is not what I expect from a walk in the great outdoors.”
    • “Cigarette smokers are putting drugs into my body…legally, but without permission…There should be no right of people to smoke on city-owned property, inside or outside. Allowing smoking in public is as crazy and unhealthy as allowing someone to bring a hose and spray carbon monoxide and ammonia around people.”

    If approved March 26, the proposed ordinance would make the City of Shoreline at least the 43rd government entity in the state of Washington to adopt some sort of outdoor smoking ban, and the at least the sixth in King County.

    RELATED: Shoreline Mulls Smoking Ban In City Parks, Public Data Ferret, 1/24/12.

    Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the Seattle-based 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News; Donate.

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