Wider smoking ban sought at Lynnwood parks

LYNNWOOD — City Councilman Sid Roberts wants to ban smoking in Lynnwood city parks.

City staff now are drafting language that would add the ban to existing park rules, he said. The council could vote on the matter in a month or two.

If the ban passes, Lynnwood would become at least the fifth city in Snohomish County to outlaw cigarettes and other kinds of tobacco in their parks. Cities with bans include Lake Stevens, Bothell, Marysville and Sultan. Mill Creek has a ban at its sports complex, and county parks officials are considering a ban for at least two wild areas.

Most other cities in the county have signs posted in parks, asking people not to light up.

Marysville adopted its ban on Feb. 25 citing health concerns and litter from cigarette butts.

Bothell and Shoreline adopted similar rules in 2012, and Lake Stevens in 2008.

In cities with bans, smokers can face fines.

The exact wording of the proposed new rules in Lynnwood, and the potential consequences, haven’t been sorted out yet, Roberts said last week.

“The specifics of what it looks like, what the fines would be, all that has yet to be determined,” he said.

On a recent weekend visit, the councilman noted that Spruce Park along 36th Avenue W. was packed with children and their families. It made him think about how often city park bathrooms seem to smell like “a smoke tent,” he said.

“It just seems to me that a park ought to be a place that is public,” he said. “Our children are looking to adults to know what behavior to model. I just think that’s a good place for an example.”

Marysville first posted signs in parks asking people not to use tobacco about six years ago, city parks director Jim Ballew said.

The signs worked well until recently, when groups of young people began gathering at parks and smoking, he said.

“We were seeing middle-school kids to late 20-year-olds converging on parks, and the only recreation they sought was to smoke,” he said. “What transpired is we started seeing a different use of the park.”

Officials were worried the smoking groups would discourage families with young children from enjoying the parks, Ballew said. The city’s parks advisory board recommended that Marysville find a way to enforce the rules.

Marysville police can issue a citation for violations with a fine up to $500, similar to a littering violation, Ballew said.

Officers have issued warnings, but no citations, police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said.

On June 13, the Marysville Skate Park at 1050 Columbia Ave. re-opened after a week-long closure, Ballew said. During the closure, the park was cleaned up and new signs were posted regarding the tobacco ban.

“We’ve seen a pretty good reduction, so it’s working,” Ballew said.

Meanwhile, Snohomish County officials are considering banning tobacco at two county park sites, the Portage Creek Wildlife Area in the Arlington area and the Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary near Paine Field.

They’ve also discussed creating a designated smoking area at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, county parks director Tom Teigen said.

“We encourage folks not to smoke around others,” he said. “There’s no ordinance that we could cite them, but we have a couple of big concerns.”

The parks department, the county council and the county executive’s office likely will talk about the idea in the coming months, Teigen said.

The city of Everett does receive complaints about smoking in city parks but is not pursuing a ban, city officials said. Instead, parks staff focus on education efforts and asking smokers to be sensitive to others.

Since about 2002, local cities that have adopted rules asking people not to smoke in parks include Arlington, Edmonds, Gold Bar, Granite Falls, Index, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Snohomish, according to the Snohomish Health District.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

Local rules

It is generally against state law to smoke tobacco products inside public buildings. Many public park structures fall under the law.

Here are additional local rules:

  • Snohomish County: People asked not to smoke. Considering a ban at some properties.
  • Arlington: People asked not to smoke.
  • Brier: Same as state law.
  • Bothell: Banned with possible citations and fines.
  • Darrington: Same as state law.
  • Edmonds: People asked not to smoke,.
  • Everett: People asked not to smoke.
  • Granite Falls: People asked not to smoke.
  • Lake Stevens: Banned with possible citations and fines.
  • Lynnwood: People asked not to smoke. Considering a change.
  • Marysville: Banned with possible citations and fines.
  • Mill Creek: Banned at the sports complex on North Creek Drive.
  • Monroe: People asked not to smoke.
  • Mountlake Terrace: People asked not to smoke.
  • Mukilteo: People asked not to smoke.
  • Snohomish: People asked not to smoke.
  • Stanwood: Same as state law.
  • Sultan: Banned with possible citations and fines.
  • Woodway: Same as state law.

Source: Snohomish Health District and city officials

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