Don't Use Public Health To Police The Poor

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Don't Use Public Health To Police The Poor

This petition had 1,580 supporters
Real Change started this petition to Mayor of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and

The proposed parks smoking ban will disproportionately impact very low-income people and is out of step with the economic and racial justice values that make our city proud.

Current law, which bans smoking near play areas and within 25 feet of another person, balances legitimate concern for the harmful effects of second hand smoke with the need for sensible and nondiscriminatory law enforcement priorities.

The numbers of unsheltered homeless people in Seattle rose by 22% in 2015, prompting a realistic and compassionate response from City Council and the Mayor to expand immediate survival solutions such as legal tent encampments and emergency shelter.  Additionally, Seattle has committed to law enforcement policies that meet public safety concerns without unnecessarily criminalizing disadvantaged and minority populations.

The proposed smoking ban will be primarily enforced in downtown parks that, among other uses, provide resting places for those with nowhere else to go.  The American Journal of Preventative Medicine reports that about 73 percent of homeless people smoke tobacco

The National Coalition for the Homeless lists broad smoking bans among the worst anti-homelessness measures because they appear neutral but are never equally enforced.  We are concerned that the proposed smoking ban will:

  • arbitrarily create a new category of illegal behavior that disproportionately impacts the poor and vulnerable.
  • poorly use law enforcement resources to police public morality and create unnecessary conflict over small infractions.
  • banish offenders from public parks after two warnings, creating new legal and financial burdens for those whose lives are already hard.

So long as we continue to fail our community’s most vulnerable citizens, we will have homeless individuals existing in public spaces, including our city’s parks.  Current law meets legitimate public health concerns without criminalizing legal behavior.  Please do not pass the proposed parks smoking ban.

 

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This petition had 1,580 supporters

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