Smoking tobacco in public places is not a right, and it counts as progress that public parks are now a frontier for new limits on smoking.
Several Washington cities and counties already ban smoking in parks. Lacey is just the latest jurisdiction to examine the issue.
The cities of Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, Gig Harbor, Puyallup and Fife have tobacco-smoking bans in parks, and so have Pierce and Mason counties, according to data compiled by Lacey city staff. A ban on smoking or vaping in Olympia city parks was adopted by a city council vote a year ago, but enforcement was wisely delayed until 2018 to allow an educational period.
Lacey would be wise to consider following suit, but a lot more discussion by City Council members is needed. Smoking marijuana in public places is already forbidden statewide.
The Lacey parks board first recommended that the city create designated smoking areas in all parks after a mother’s complaints at Long Lake Park last summer prompted the city to limit smoking there. Some other park and recreation areas in the city have designated outdoor smoking areas but a consistent policy is a good idea.
It not clear that voluntary measures, which Tumwater has and which Olympia recommended for children’s playground areas in a 2013 resolution, are enough.
Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt and Councilwoman Rachel Young deserve credit for considering a broader, more restrictive policy in the council’s General Government Committee.
It now makes sense for Lacey to study the experiences of jurisdictions that ban smoking in parks — in terms of reduced litter, reduced fire risks and the reduced hassle factor for parents and others who just want to imbibe a bit of clean air.
South Sound residents should be able to expect fresh air when stepping into a local park. As we noted a year ago, it also makes sense for the state Department of Enterprise Services to consider a policy for its downtown Olympia property at Sylvester Park and Heritage Park.
Washington was in the vanguard of states in 1985 when it banned smoking in most indoor public places and workplaces. Bars, restaurants and a few other places were exempted until 2005 when voters enacted Initiative 901’s more sweeping indoor smoking ban. I-901 included a 25-foot buffer around the entrance doors to bars, restaurants and bowling alleys.
The no-smoking frontier is still moving, as it should, to other public places.
As Lacey moves forward, its leaders have a front-row seat to observe neighboring Olympia’s experience in the coming year. Though tougher curbs on public smoking are reasonable, changes in societal norms like these require time for all of us to adjust.