Recreation District board rejects smoking ban in Auburn parks

Ainsleigh fails to find support for effort to limit smoking to signed areas
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Smokers will be able to keep lighting up in most Auburn parks following the Auburn Recreation District board’s rejection of an attempt to ban cigarette use.

Director Gordy Ainsleigh initiated the proposal but could muster no support Thursday from his fellow board members. His motion to introduce ordinance changes to ban smoking failed to find a second and it died without debate.

Parks staff backed a policy committee recommendation that supports current regulations that allow smoking in all parks except Ashford Park on Auburn Ravine Road.

Director Scott Holbrook said that his main opposition to moving forward on a ban revolves around forcing regulations on others.

“The trend to ban things really frustrates me,” Holbrook said. “The board supported staff and no one would second the motion, so it died.”

Ainsleigh cited an “F” grade from the American Lung Association for Auburn’s lack of regulations in parks as a motivating factor. Smokers should be induced to change their behavior in parks rather than make others move to avoid second-hand smoke, he said.

“I think that the administration and board is underestimating the number of people who aren’t complaining or not organized but are irritated and inconvenienced because there is no ban on smoking,” Ainsleigh said.

Director Jim Ferris said the failed motion on Thursday was also an indication of impracticalities identified in the staff report of enforcing a ban.

Holbrook said no members of the public were in the audience to speak for or against a smoking ban.

The board actually moved to the discussion stage on a list of other possible bans in the park, including “offensive perfume, plastic foam plastic bags, fast food, soda, any kind of sugar product, any food with gluten and any products made in countries that violate human rights.”

Holbrook made the motion for the board to consider a blanket ban. He said Friday it was meant to highlight his opposition to forcing personal views on others – not to be supported.

Ainsleigh seconded the motion and was the lone board member to vote in favor of the ban, adding “products from China to the list.”

“I was playing along with it, to magnify the farce,” Ainsleigh said.