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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Difference Between the State Smoking Ban and the New Parks Smoking Ban

Posted by on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Washington voters banned smoking in public indoor spaces in 2005 by a margin of 63 to 37 percent. Over 1.8 million people voted. It may not be perfect, but it was the product of lots of input, studies that proved the unavoidable exposure to harmful second-hand smoke in bars and restaurants, and a lengthy democratic process.

Leading up to the parks smoking ban, the democratic process was underway—239 people made comments—and the Seattle Parks Board of Commissioners held a public hearing to listen to people's opinions, the group deliberated, considered the evidence, and voted to recommend that an outright ban on smoking not be implemented. But the democratic process was rejected by one person, Timothy Gallagher, the parks superintendent, who threw that all out the window, implementing the smoking ban on false grounds (as I explained earlier).

The statewide smoking ban was a public process; the parks smoking ban was one person foisting a onerous, unenforceable law on the city.


Comments (23) RSS

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Fnarf 1
Are you familiar with the concept of representative democracy?

We have a mayor, whom we elected to run the city. Gallagher reports to him. If the mayor doesn't like it, he can tell Gallagher not to. If you don't like it, you can vote out the mayor.

If you're one of those people who thinks that every little thing that government does should be put up to a vote first, you should get in line behind Tim Eyman.
Posted by Fnarf on February 18, 2010 at 1:34 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 3

@ 1) Representative democracies are great--but using that executive position to override the advice of a democratic process, based on a misrepresentation of scientific evidence, means someone is blowing his job.

Posted by Dominic Holden on February 18, 2010 at 1:39 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
You know, the next thing we're going to do is not let you bring ammunition into our parks.

Because it poisons the fish and kids pick up the spent shells.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 18, 2010 at 1:41 PM · Report this
This is the kind of thing that gets people who hate the "nanny state" all fired up. It doesn't help that the decision rejects scientific evidence. Good intentions are not enough. The standard should be that the parks have to prove a public danger based on empirical evidence before passing a law that curbs personal freedom.

Not to mention, how are they going to get all those cigarette taxes that are supposed to help bail out the state when there's no legal place to smoke?
Posted by Westside forever on February 18, 2010 at 1:43 PM · Report this
elenchos 7
Oh, bullshit, Dominic.

When an executive or a judge foists gay marriage on a public that opposes it, we don't hear this disingenuous crap about how you think democracy is supposed to work. You love it when democracy gives you the result you like but any time the democratic process gives you an outcome you don't like you're first in line demanding -- demanding! on principle! -- that either a judge or an executive tell the people to go fuck themselves and instead "do what's right."

With you its always some highflown principle that you pull out of your ass, instead of defending your opinions on their merits.

Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.
Posted by elenchos on February 18, 2010 at 1:49 PM · Report this
Fnarf 8
@6, being hated by the likes of you is just part of the reason I post here. I'm in your head, aren't I? You sit there FUMING about what an unbelievable asshole prick I am, don't you? I'm shortening your life through stress, and I'm LOVING it.
Posted by Fnarf on February 18, 2010 at 1:55 PM · Report this
Seriously. Shouldn't we be happy that smoking is banned in parks?

Nobody like cigarette butts.
Posted by Valentein on February 18, 2010 at 1:56 PM · Report this
Amnt 11
How many slog posts will there be about this today?

Will, you made the same comment about ammo in a previous thread which I replied to, so I'll just copy it here:

I wasn't aware so many bullets were flying in city parks that lead contamination was an issue, please enlighten us. Casings are typically brass, it doesn't "poison the water supply" or some other nonsense. The bullets themselves (casings are NOT "bullets") can be made sealed or even of pure copper, which does not present the environmental issues of lead. Would that be ok with you?

(or are you just trying to make a "clever" BS post?)

As for cigarette butts, I hate them. I have worked for the Parks Dept and hate seeing them everywhere, I usually didn't bother trying to clean them up because there were so many. Plus I figured leaving them there for people to see increases the social pressure on smokers to stop littering. But it is a littering issue, not smoking issue. I don't smoke and hate being around smoke, but outdoors and away from other people, I say live and let die.
Posted by Amnt on February 18, 2010 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 12
@ 7) Wrong. I have defended my argument on its merits, citing a scientific study from Stanford (the same study Gallagher used) that proves the parks board--speaking for the public--was correct, and that the executive was wrong.
Posted by Dominic Holden on February 18, 2010 at 2:11 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 13
This isn't about you.

It's about the kids.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 18, 2010 at 2:18 PM · Report this
Fnarf 14
@11, copper isn't as bad as lead but it's still a pollutant and it's still bad for Puget Sound. Most copper runoff comes from things like car brake linings washing off of streets and parking lots, but still, it's hardly benign.…
Posted by Fnarf on February 18, 2010 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 15
Scientific studies can be used by the media to prove or disprove anything.

Usually incorrectly.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 18, 2010 at 2:22 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 16
@14 - most cars don't run on the grass.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 18, 2010 at 2:23 PM · Report this
crazycatguy 18
Smoking is a public nuisance, not a civil right, Dom. It doesn't deserve any privileges, including being allowed in parks.
Posted by crazycatguy on February 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM · Report this
very bad homo 19
When all cigarette butts are finally cleaned up off the streets, you can smoke in parks again. Deal?
Posted by very bad homo on February 18, 2010 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 20
@ 18) Lots of annoying behaviors are legal and allowed in parks (yodeling, cooking fish on one of those grills, playing hacky sack). There has to be a specific harm to others. And the issue--for those just arriving to the discussion--is whether the parks board's recommendation of requiring smokers to be 25 feet from non-smokers was sufficient to protect others. The study cited by the parks superintendent and Seattle & King County Public Health suggests it was more than sufficient.
Posted by Dominic Holden on February 18, 2010 at 2:39 PM · Report this
Amnt 21
@14, point taken, copper isn't inert, just a lot better than lead. In any case, there aren't so many bullets flying in parks for it to be an issue either way. In two years with Seattle parks I found one spent shell casing. Most litter is beverage containers, food wrappers and cigarette butts.

Oh, and condoms and needles.

Will is just being a troll, I should know better and just ignore him.
Posted by Amnt on February 18, 2010 at 2:41 PM · Report this
Dom - I agree with you but think you might have taken the bait and changed this discussion to the safety/not of smoking. I suspect this rule has nothing to do with smoking. Check out the punishment for breaking it - you get booted from the park

Seems to me this rule is more about removing some 'undesirable' people from the parks. And this might be one 'nice' way of doing so without trampling on people's civil rights too much,

Fact is, many downtown core parks are becoming and adding to a growing downtown wasteland, caused in part by a perception and reality that downtown isn't safe. Open air drug dealing, garbage, car prowls, and inebriated people in the parks (along with people and their pit bulls) are driving people away from downtown, and with them businesses. This might be the first step in the city finally responding to this.
Posted by Meinert on February 18, 2010 at 2:45 PM · Report this
@ 22 wouldn't it be just like Seattle to take this tack. Instead of enforcing vagrancy and/or disturbing the peace laws that might be seen as controversial, they're going to passively/aggressively use smoking as a way to run off "undesirables".

What self-respecting libtard is going to be against smoking? But run off some asshole "of color" who's acting up in public? You'd be all over the morning paper and not in a good way.
Posted by Westside forever on February 18, 2010 at 2:51 PM · Report this
@23 - I realistically don't think this is about race.

The problem with the 'vagrancy' and 'disorderly conduct' laws is that they require criminal action - arrests, paperwork, etc. More current social theory would call for something different. This may or may not work, and it may not have been the best way to approach the issue from a PR angle, but at least someone is trying to do something that gets to the problem without going too far. Maybe. But most people seem to be missing the point.
Posted by Meinert on February 18, 2010 at 2:58 PM · Report this
I gotta say that this smoking ban thing bugs the hell out of me. It seems completely absurd to tell people that they can't smoke OUTSIDE! But if we're going to be pissed about this instance of the democratic process being rejected out of hand by the whim of the person who is supposed to be representing the people, shouldn't we be even more pissed off about the state legislature overturning voter approved I-960? That seems to me like a more egregious disregard of the will of the people.
Posted by John on February 18, 2010 at 2:59 PM · Report this
PS - while McGinn and Gallagher are at it, I think they should ban pitbulls from parks too. Maybe this is a subversion of democracy the Stranger could get behind.
Posted by Meinert on February 18, 2010 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 27
I think @19 offers a reasonable compromise.

Pitbulls are ok, so long as I'm allowed to carry a full mag of high-velocity rounds ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 18, 2010 at 4:50 PM · Report this

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