Seattle could be the next major U.S. city to pass a parks smoking ban, as Mayor Ed Murray’s administration has asked the Board of Park Commissioners to approve a new rule that would ban smoking in those areas.
The Emerald City already has fairly restrictive anti-smoking legislation on the books for parks, as it currently prohibits smoking, chewing or other tobacco use within 25 feet of other park users as well as in play areas, beaches or playgrounds. That law was put in place in 2010.
In a press release, Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams said that “we are asking the Board of Park Commissioners to consider this issue because smoking is incongruous with our values of healthy parks and healthy people; visitors come to parks to enjoy healthful, outdoor recreation. When there are smokers in a park, it diminishes others’ ability to do that.”
The ban is also being seen as a way to curb litter in city parks.
Should the ban pass, it would not become part of the Seattle Municipal Code, and violators would be given a warning, followed by a possible park exclusion for repeated violations.
Seattle would join Portland in passing a parks smoking ban this year, as the Rose City enacted the ban in February. New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia also have bans in place.
The Board of Park Commissioners will host a special public hearing on Thursday, April 16, to take comments on the proposed ban. Following the hearing, the Park Board will discuss the issue at its May 14 meeting and then make a recommendation to the superintendent. The superintendent will then issue a final ruling in mid- to late May.
A written briefing on the proposal can be found here. Those wishing to comment on the proposed ban can submit written comments through May 7 or attend the meeting.
Seattle is home to an estimated 652,405 residents.