SEATTLE - If you've been keeping up on what is permitted in Seattle parks, guns are okay. Spitting is also okay. Smoking? Not so fast.
Starting on April 1, you could get kicked out of a Seattle park for smoking. It's not an April fool's joke. The Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent decided to ban smoking, despite recommendations from the Board of Park Commissioners.
Tonight, at Victor Steinbrueck Park along Seattle's waterfront, you could find a number of visitors smoking while enjoying the sunset. But come April 1, no more. Even non-smokers are surprised.
"In the parks? I think that's pushing it a little bit," said Jake Mays.
Dylan Jones, a non-smoker who was at a park with his dog, has a mixed reaction. "I'm torn. I'm conflicted. I appreciate the fresh air, but it's a public place," he said.
One smoker asked us not to identify her. She supports smoking bans for indoor areas, but says a smoking ban in parks goes too far.
"I tried to be respectful and not smoke in front of businesses, or on the sidewalks. So where do I go now? Do I go in an alley somewhere?" she asked.
Last week, the Board of Park Commissioners decided against a smoking ban. But today, Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher issued a memo, stating he decided to "prohibit smoking, chewing or other tobacco use anywhere on [Seattle] Parks and Recreation property."
Dewey Potter, Seattle Parks spokesperson, explains, "[Gallagher] believes the public is the majority behind it, and that as an agency that purports to provide healthy things for people here it was the appropriate thing to do, especially since parks are a big attraction for kids.
"I think that's really good because smoking is really bad for you, and even if you breathe it in if someone else is smoking," said 9-year-old Bianca Newell.
Her mother, Angela Wienhold agrees. "I don't appreciate any kind of smoke around kids."
The ban will be enforced on a complaint basis. First-time violators will be excluded from the park for 24 hours. There will be longer exclusions for repeat offenders.