Lacey City Council members agreed Thursday that a smoking ban is the right move for the city’s park system.
However, the ban, which likely will include vaping and smokeless tobacco products as well as cigarettes, won’t take effect right away. The council is likely to vote on the proposal in March. After that, there will be a period of citizen education, which could take up to a year, and then it would take effect, said Jennifer Burbidge, parks and recreation director.
A number of Western Washington cities already have smoking bans in place, including Olympia.
Although the city’s parks board felt that creating designated smoking areas was the best approach, the council was largely in support of a complete ban.
Here’s what some council members had to say:
▪ Carolyn Cox: “If you can smoke in part of the park, but can’t in the other, nothing stops the smoke from drifting over to the smoke-free area. It promotes conflict. We need to ban smoking. If there’s one place where we expect to have fresh air, it’s in a park.”
▪ Rachel Young: “As a mom of young kids, smoking should be banned in parks.”
▪ Cynthia Pratt: “Just walking by someone who smokes, it’s surprising how it affects those that don’t smoke. And I worry about kids.”
Councilman Lenny Greenstein said he was leaning toward designated areas, but he didn’t feel strongly about it.
“I have no real issue with a smoking ban,” he said.
The issue of smoking in city parks was raised last summer after a woman complained about people smoking near her children at Long Lake Park. The parks board recommended creating a designated area — which was successfully used at Long Lake — while a city council committee supported a ban. The difference of opinion finally resulted in Thursday’s work session discussion.
Parks board chairman Ken Balsley also was in attendance Thursday. He said designated areas make sense because about 20 percent of the population still smokes.
Councilman Michael Steadman wanted to know how the ban would be enforced.
Parks director Burbidge said it was less about enforcement and more about education.
Lacey Police Chief Dusty Pierpoint said enforcement likely would be accomplished with a verbal warning and voluntary compliance.