By David Anderson
The city is looking for a “marketing ‘phrase or slogan’ to establish community identity/image,” one of its New Year’s resolutions per last month’s annual weekend council retreat.
Maybe “Free the Weed”?
Despite the fact that many of its neighboring municipalities have banned smoking in their respective parks; and even though roughly 1,000 people die annually in Pierce County from tobacco-related diseases; and no matter that smoking bans have proven effective in discouraging teens from taking up the habit; or that the council is self-mandated to ensure quality of life for all residents, still there on those on the council who believe a ban would be unenforceable, a ban is not the government’s job and that people have had enough of government’s intrusion.
The City Council wants the Parks Department to “compromise” (condone) what Parks has already categorized as incompatible.
How ‘bout a brochure then describing “how to blow smoke rings”?
If smoking, according to the surgeon general, that is responsible for 480,000 premature deaths a year; and – for the babies that are born – vision loss, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, impaired immune function, and cleft palates are found in children of pregnant women who smoke; plus bladder cancer, cervical cancer and on and on all attributable to tobacco as reported just days ago by Richard Cohen, opinion writer for “The Washington Times” – if these are not worthy reasons to ban smoking in parks, maybe outlawing loud conversations are?
Just this January 22, city leaders in Hingham, MA proposed fines of up to $300 for noise levels that would effectively ban lawn mowers “and even spark fines for loud conversations.”
“It’s really a question of giving police some tools to deal with a quality of life issue,” said Hingham Selectman Chairman Bruce Rabuffo.
Quality of life.
The same priority the Lakewood City Council itself declares is its responsibility (number four).
If daytime noise-levels above 55dB (and a normal conversation at three feet is 60-65dB unless of course you’re talking to me who am hard of hearing) are subject to fines, then where on the responsibility chart of city duties does tobacco – “a gateway drug to an early grave” fall?
Furthermore, if Lakewood City leaders can’t answer that then what will they say in the likely event that pipes, bongs, and blunts are smoked, chewed and vaporized (no)thanks to pending federal approval of recreational marijuana in public places intended for recreation – like parks?
Though City Attorney Heidi Ann Wachter has opined that federal law must first legally ‘free the weed’ before Lakewood storefronts can open their doors, given the latest from President Obama, dopers and drugers could one day be stumbling down the same path as dog walkers along city park trails.
The head Fed himself said, according to “The Washington Time’s” Joseph Curl, “that the legalization trend (in Washington and Colorado) should spread, ‘because it’s important for a society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.’”
Ambivalence now, an ambulance then.
Greg Rediske says
Unless surrounded by six puffing smokers, who are exhaling in the same direction, it seems unlikely that smoking in the park could be a “health hazard” to anyone besides the smoker. This remains a free country, and if smokers want to take this risk, that is their right, as disturbing as this is to us non-smokers who easily see the personal health risks. A bigger risk from my viewpoint is the fire danger. But I can see no health risk that needs to be legislated by the city. There is too much morality legislation as it is, which is what this would amount to.
David Anderson says
“Tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable death and disease in the nation, in Washington State and in Pierce County. Our parks should be healthy and safe places for families to gather and for kids and adults to be physically active.” – (Terry Reid is co-chair of the Tobacco-free Alliance of Pierce County.)