McKinleyville pursuing public smoking ban

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – The McKinleyville Community Services District (MCSD) plans to ban smoking at all of its parks. The district’s Board of Directors voted unanimously Feb. 7 to direct staff to draft an ordinance to make all of its parks “smoke free spaces.”

“Current state law prohibits smoking within 25 feet of any playground and within 20 feet of all entrances, exits and open windows of public facilities,” states a staff report on the subject. But elsewhere in McKinleyville parks, smokers are now free to puff away.

The board decided to pursue the ordinance at the request of the McKinleyville Recreation Advisory Committee (RAC), whose members had voted unanimously to recommend the smoking ban.

“Basically, our logic was the open spaces and parks for McKinleyville are for enjoyment and health, and smoking doesn’t seem to go along with that,” RAC member Jeff Dunk told the board.

Fellow committee member Chad Sefcik agreed. “I think it’s important that we grow in a healthy manner,” Sefcik said about the community.

MCSD Manager Greg Orsini said that district staff is supportive of the concept of banning smoking in parks, but he said he wanted the board to have a clear expectation regarding enforcement. District staff, he said, would not be out at parks enforcing the ordinance. That would be the job of the Sheriff’s Office, which would likely place a low priority on enforcing such a law.

Dunk said that the mere existence of a non-smoking ordinance may reduce second-hand smoke at McKinleyville parks. Last year, he noted, Humboldt State University made its campus entirely smoke free. Dunk, who works at HSU, said he encounters significantly less second-hand smoke since the smoking ban. “I’d say it’s an 80 to 90 percent reduction,’ he said.

The ban, which will be considered by the board later this year, would prohibit the smoking of all substances, including cannabis, tobacco and just about anything else you can put in your pipe.


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