Debating smoking in public parks

Smoking in public spaces is a hot button issue. Passions both for and against rules, restrictions and or full out bans run extremely high on both sides of the argument.

On one side, there are the proven health risks that medical and scientific data provide about breathing in toxins and carcinogens from first hand and second hand smoke and how doing so has negative health impacts.

On the other side of the argument are the individual rights of adults to engage in a legal activity.

One thing that is certain is that any governing or stewarding policy adopted in regards to smoking in public spaces will not make everyone happy.

The purpose of conversations currently underway between the Bremerton Parks Commission, city of Bremerton officials and the public is to find a viable, achievable and reasonably acceptable solution that will benefit the majority of parks users including those who are the most vulnerable.

Improvements currently underway at Evergreen Park on an all-inclusive play area have prompted a review of the existing or in some instances non-exiting or inconsistent policy in regards to smoking in city of Bremerton parks.

The inspirational driver that “All May Play” means that a safe environment needs to exist so that all may play and all may enjoy the public spaces in our community.

The solution that will come is not going to cater to either extreme and instead needs to combine pieces, improvements and suggestions that will be practical, reasonable and achievable. Suggestions such as a 25-foot rule surrounding play areas, designated smoking areas within existing park spaces, an increased number of receptacles and consistent and easily recognizable signage are just a few of the changes under consideration.

Conversations going on this week with the parks commission are just the beginning of the work and public opinion collection that needs to occur before a permanent solution is implemented.

I encourage everyone to be patient, respectful and keep an open mind as discussions occur and ideas, opinions and suggestions on changes to the city smoking policy are brought forth at public meetings and or in writing.

The Bremerton Parks Commission is a group of seven appointed citizen representatives who are conveyed under the requirements of the Bremerton Municipal Code (BMC).

The commission exists in an advisory capacity that holds open public meetings, consults with parks staff regarding operational and financial issues and then makes recommendations to the city council.

Comments to the parks commission and or parks staff are always welcome and can be submitted on this issue and any others that are related to city parks and open spaces. Email parks@ci.bremerton.wa.us.



Colleen Smidt is a longtime resident of Bremerton and writes weekly about topics that matter to the Bremerton and Central Kitsap communities.


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