As Of Today, You Can No Longer Smoke In Burien Parks Or Playgrounds
On the 36th national Great American Smoke-Out (Thursday, Nov. 17), the City of Burien joined five local communities as having tobacco- or smoke-free parks.
“The city of Burien today declared its parks, beaches, playgrounds and playfields to be tobacco- and smoke-free, joining Auburn, Covington, Seattle, Snoqualmie and the Vashon Parks District, which have similar policies,” reads a press release.
“We’re proud to be joining other cities in King County in declaring our parks smoke-free,” said Burien Mayor Joan McGilton. “This benefits the entire community and is in line with the City’s vision of promoting a healthy environment for people of all ages.”
“When folks come to a public park, they expect to breathe fresh air – not someone else’s cigarettes,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who said he will work with the County Council to develop a no-smoking policy for King County parks.
Here’s a Video courtesy our friends at Burien Parks:
Here’s the rest of the press release:
Tobacco-free parks reduce exposure to second-hand smoke for children and families, and reduce pollution from cigarette butts, the main source of litter in public places.
Tobacco-free parks are part of a broad movement to create healthy and smoke-free areas, especially for kids and the most vulnerable. In recent months many hospitals, housing providers, and mental health and chemical dependency centers have also gone smoke-free.
“People want and deserve healthy, smoke-free places. Today we continue to deliver this for our region,” said King County Councilmember and King County Board of Health chair Joe McDermott, whose council district includes Burien and who today helped unveil Burien’s first tobacco-free signage in a ceremony at Lake Burien School Memorial Park.
In a recent survey of King County residents, 70 percent said they support smoke-free public places, including parks.
In King County alone, tobacco causes almost 2,000 premature deaths and costs over $340 million in medical expenses each year. In addition to the health effects, cigarette butts can account for up to 70 percent of litter items in public places. Cigarette butts can take up to 15 years to decompose, leaching chemicals into the soil and posing harm to small children and pets if ingested.
“The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke, and tobacco use is still the leading cause of death and illness in King County,” said Carrie Nyssen, Regional Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific. “Even brief exposure to second-hand smoke can cause an asthma attack in a child, or increase risk of blot clots in healthy adults.”
Nationally, almost 600 jurisdictions have enacted laws that prohibit tobacco use in parks and on beaches, including New York and Los Angeles. In Washington state, about 30 cities in 15 counties have smoke-free parks policies, including Tacoma Metro Parks in Pierce County and Marysville and Lake Stevens in Snohomish County.
Tobacco policies are enforced mostly by residents themselves, much like with dog leash and alcohol policies. This is how similar laws have worked in other places, including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. People can also contact the parks departments.
A universal tobacco-free parks sign has been created for jurisdictions to post in their parks. Each jurisdiction that has adopted or plans to adopt a tobacco- or smoke-free policy will have the opportunity to post this sign as part of the regional partnership for tobacco-free parks.
Other cities within King County are also considering tobacco-free policies. These activities by local cities and King County are supported by Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), a federally-funded grant to address obesity and tobacco use, two of the leading causes of death in King County.
More officials and directors comment on the benefits of tobacco and smoke-free parks:
- City of Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis: “The City of Auburn is committed to creating a healthy community. The Tobacco-Free Park Policy is intended to assist recreational organizations and parents in their efforts to recreate in a tobacco-free environment. It is important that we recognize the effects of first and second-hand smoke and discourage tobacco usage at places where youth are gathered and healthy lifestyle activities are available.”
- City of Covington Mayor Margaret Harto: “Covington established its tobacco free park ordinance in 2002 because we knew that choosing to be tobacco free in our parks meant choosing to provide a better quality of life for our citizens. We are proud to join King County’s initiative to bring light to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke in our public places.”?
- City of Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson: “We believe parks should remain spaces that are focused on health. Having places where kids can go and exercise and enjoy the fresh air is what parks are all about.”
- City of SeaTac Mayor Terry Anderson: “The City of SeaTac is concerned about tobacco use and the health of our citizens. SeaTac City Council is currently working with our citizens both young and old to see if they would like to have tobacco-free parks.”
- Vashon Park District Director Jan Milligan: “The community of Vashon Island is very committed to health and wellness, so tobacco-free parks and other public areas are just part of the big picture of a healthy community.”
For more information on CPPW, please visit www.kingcounty.gov/health/cppw and the new campaign, Let’s Do This, that encourages residents to get involved in improving the health of their communities.
Today, November 17, is also the 36th Great American Smoke-Out nationwide, and people are encouraged to use the date to make a plan to quit smoking.