Yesterday, overruling an advisory panel's recommendation, Seattle Parks Superintendent Timothy Gallagher imposed a comprehensive tobacco ban on the city's parks. Although protecting bystanders from secondhand smoke is the most common justification for such bans, Gallagher's rationale is wider:
The negative health effects of tobacco are well documented. As an agency that has a fundamental mission to support the health and well-being of Seattle residents, it is appropriate and beneficial to prohibit the use of tobacco products at parks and park facilities.
In other words, Gallagher is intent on using his power as parks superintendent not only to protect park patrons from the occasional whiff of someone else's cigarette smoke but to protect them from the ill effects of their own unhealthy habits. Hence the inclusion of smokeless tobacco, which poses no conceivable threat to passers-by (and also is much less hazardous to consumers than cigarettes). For those worried about getting hit by tobacco juice spray: Consumption of oral snuff such as Skoal Bandits or Camel Snus does not require any spitting. Such discreet, smokeless consumption of tobacco does not even trigger the "concerns that smokers set a poor example for children" mentioned by the Seattle Times. Yet under Gallagher's new policy, any park visitor caught with such contraband will be summarily ejected, the better to serve his department's "fundamental mission to support the health and well-being of Seattle residents."
More on outdoor smoking bans here.
[Thanks to Paul in Seattle for the tip.]