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Board reverses ban on tobacco in parks

Smoke-free zone enforcement depends on ‘peer pressure’

Smoking will be allowed in Spokane Parks and tobacco restrictions will be voluntary.

The Spokane Park Board on Thursday unanimously voted to reverse its spring decision to phase in a tobacco ban at all city parks and reinstituted its former policy of prohibiting tobacco use in tobacco-free zones.

But if people want the rules enforced, it will be up to them to do it, and there are no penalties for not complying.

Until this spring, police were charged with enforcement. The new rules say “enforcement of this policy will be self directed and by peer pressure influence.”

The board’s spring vote called for the gradual implementation of a tobacco ban on all parkland except golf courses. But soon after, park officials decided to reconsider the smoking policy.

City Councilman Bob Apple, who serves on the Park Board, said he was concerned that the more restrictive rules would have banned a legal activity on public right-of-way.

“You can’t make a law you can’t enforce,” Apple said.

Much of the final version approved Thursday is based on the policy that was approved by the Park Board in 2004.

Smoking will be prohibited in tobacco-free zones, often where children congregate. One key difference is that smoking can be banned at special events, such as Pig Out in the Park, except at designated smoking areas.

Cindy Dandoy told the Park Board on Thursday that she left this year’s Pig Out in the Park because there was too much cigarette smoke.

“If we could portray our parks as smoke-free, it would be a much more friendly environment,” she said.

Zara Price, a recent Shadle Park High School graduate and former member of Spokane Teens Against Tobacco, said even without an outright ban, the policy encourages smokers to be aware of others in the parks.

“It’s not just about smoking, but the litter that goes along with it,” she said. “We just want to make it a healthier, more family friendly place to be.”

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