OLYMPIA – Today, the Board of County Commissioners passed an ordinance amending the Park Code of Thurston County to prohibit smoking and vaping in Thurston County parks and preserves, and on Thurston County trails.
The Board of County Commissioners also serve as the Board of Health. The Board of Health is working to minimize public exposure to second hand smoke and view this ordinance as an important step in addressing a public health issue.
Thurston County’s mission is “to create a community that promotes health, commerce, and environmental protection with transparency and accountability.” Tobacco use is the leading contributor to heart and lung disease and certain cancers. Ample research shows that exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful to health as well. There is no safe level of exposure.
Fourteen percent (14%) of adults in Thurston County smoke. According to the Healthy Youth Survey (2016), a similar percentage of 12th graders smoke cigarettes, but 23% use vapes (26% use one, or the other, or both). Research has shown youth who vape are more likely to start smoking.
“Our goal is to protect all of our residents and especially our kids,” said Commission Chair, Bud Blake. “We want our parks and trails to be safe for everyone to enjoy without the negative impacts of secondhand smoke—and that includes vaping. If science tells us that kids who vape are more likely to take up cigarettes, we need to take that seriously and do what we can by eliminating it in our parks and public places.”
The statewide Smoking in Public Places (SIPP) law protects residents from secondhand smoke indoors but does not restrict outdoor exposures, with limited exceptions. Several cities in Thurston County have adopted similar rules to limit or prohibit smoking in parks and recreation areas. By prohibiting these activities in Thurston County parks and preserves, and on Thurston County trails, this ordinance:
- Helps prevent exposure of residents to secondhand smoke and vapor.
- Creates a safer and healthier environment for park users, including children and youth.
- Protects children’s health by reducing their exposure to smoking and vaping.
- Supports park users who may be trying to quit smoking.
- Protects against fire and environmental impacts of littering.
- Is consistent with state and regional goal of eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke and vapor.
- Furthers the County’s mission by supporting healthy activity and preventing secondhand smoke or vapor impacts to the many users of these public spaces.
Violation of the ordinance would be a misdemeanor offense, subject to the same penalties as other violations of the Park Code. This includes paying a fine on first offense which increases with each additional offense.