July 6, 2015 / 6:45 PM / 2 years ago

'Smell flowers, not smoke': Seattle curbs cigarettes in parks

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products in Seattle's parks became illegal on Monday, as the U.S. Pacific Northwest's largest city joined other American metropolises in restricting puffing in public.

Seattle's Parks and Recreation officials voted in May to ban smoking in all of its 465 parks. It had previously required smokers to maintain 25-feet minimum distances from other visitors in any publicly accessible park land, the city said.

On Monday, the city, on its website, encouraged park goers to "smell flowers, not smoke."

The ban follows similar restrictions in more than 1,000 other U.S. cities and communities across the nation, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, the city said.

Cities have pursued the ban as the dangers of cigarette smoking became more widely accepted, and because of cigarette butt litter.

"Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease both locally and in the United States, so it makes sense to take actions that promote health and healthy environments in our public spaces," Jeff Duchin, Interim Health Officer for Public Health in Seattle and King County, said in a statement after the May vote.

In Seattle, park rangers and police officers enforce the ban. A verbal warning follows a first offense, followed by a written trespass warning. Repeat offenders are subject to arrest.

The ban does not include electronic cigarettes. Washington state prohibits the public use of marijuana, which voters legalized in 2012.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Lambert

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