Olympia will adopt a smoking and vaping ban at all public parks, starting in 2018.
The Olympia City Council approved the proposal Tuesday. The ban will take effect in January 2018 and will be treated like an education campaign, said Jonathan Turlove, associate parks director.
“We do not have any plans for issuing civil infractions or trespassing people from the parks,” said Turlove, noting a regional and national trend to adopt smoke-free parks.
The idea is to install signs that encourage park users to stop smoking or vaping, he said. Park rangers and park staff would politely ask smokers to stop.
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The ban also is expected to reduce litter and fire risks. “We pick up an awful lot of cigarette butts in our parks,” Turlove said.
The parks department will present a formal ordinance for council approval in the spring, then conduct an outreach campaign in the summer and fall, Turlove said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the council directed staff to reach out to the state Department of Enterprise Services, which manages Sylvester, Heritage and Marathon parks in Olympia. Smoking and vaping are allowed at those state-owned parks.
“It’s not only a health issue, but I think it’s a progressive issue that other cities are embracing,” Council member Jeannine Roe said Tuesday.
In 2003, the Olympia City Council passed a resolution urging people not to smoke near park playgrounds, but stopped short of a full smoking ban for parks. Reports at the time cited a preference for voluntary compliance and an educational effort to keep children away from smoking adults.
Olympia’s ban does not include chewing tobacco. State law already prohibits the smoking of marijuana in public places.