A Lacey City Council committee met Monday to weigh two considerations: Whether to stick with designated smoking areas in city parks, or ban smoking, vaping and tobacco products in city parks altogether.
In the end, the council’s General Government Committee — made up of Mayor Andy Ryder, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt and Councilwoman Rachel Young — recommended that the full council discuss the matter. The debate is now likely to come before the council in January, City Manager Scott Spence said Tuesday.
Spence said any final action on the issue of a parks smoking ban also would come before the full council.
The issue of smoking in city parks came before the city’s parks board over the summer after a woman complained about people smoking near her children at Long Lake Park. A designated smoking area was created and it was used successfully, according to the city. The parks board, around that time, recommended to the General Government Committee that the city designate smoking areas in other parks.
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But the General Government Committee also wanted a second opinion, so they asked city staff for a recommendation. The staff recommended adding designated smoking areas in other parks, such as Rainier Vista Community Park, but that a complete ban on smoking and vaping in parks take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
“This time frame would allow for proper public outreach and education regarding the upcoming change,” an agenda for Monday’s committee gathering reads.
In the agenda, the city outlined the advantages and disadvantages of a parks smoking ban.
▪ Advantages: Protects parks from tobacco-related waste such as cigarette butts; reduces exposing youth to smoking and vaping.
▪ Disadvantages: The parks are open to all, whether they smoke or not; enforcement of a smoking and vaping ban is challenging.
Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Kent, Vancouver, Gig Harbor, Puyallup and Fife have smoke- and tobacco-free parks, according to Lacey.