King County wants cities to ban smoking in parks
King County's Board of Health wants to prevent young people from smoking or vaping before they start.
So, this week the health board asked all cities to ban smoking in places kids tend to hang out: public parks and beaches.
It's not an outright ban on smoking in parks. Rather, the board approved park guidelines it wants each city to use.
Health board staff member Scott Neal says seeing other people use tobacco products can influence kids to take it up. E-cigarette use is also rising among teens.
"These products contain as much nicotine, in one of those [e-cigarette] pods, as an entire pack of cigarettes," Neal said. "That's obviously concerning for the developing brain, so we really want to do whatever we can to keep kids away from these products, which has become unfortunately the norm for teenagers."
The health board recommends that police educate people who violate the bans, instead of issuing arrests or fines.
Neal says a primary focus should be on reducing kids' exposure to smoking.
Half the cities in King County already enforce tobacco-free policies in the parks, including Seattle.