All-park smoking ban getting closer look from Auburn Recreation District

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Smokers could be required to butt out at all Auburn Recreation District parks under a proposal now getting an early look.

Acting on an American Lung Association survey that gave Auburn an “F” grade for actions it has taken to curb smoking, Director Gordy Ainsleigh has requested that the district take a serious look at banning cigarette use in its parks.

Ainsleigh’s request was initially brought up at a meeting this month of the district board’s policy committee. Administrator Kahl Muscott said Wednesday that he will come back to the panel in February with more information on what other parks districts are doing.

“From what I can tell, there are over 100 special districts in California that have smoking bans,” Muscott said.

Muscott said he’ll also be finding out more about neighboring Roseville’s smoking ban in parks.

A district move to ban smoking would extend it from one park now not allowing cigarette use to a network of parks and opens spaces that includes Recreation Park in Auburn, Regional Park in North Auburn and Meadow Vista Park. The ban could also take in smaller Atwood Park, Mount Vernon Park and Railhead Park.

The lone park now under a smoking ban is Ashford Park on Auburn Ravine Road, near Interstate 80. That ban was initially for just the dog park but expanded to the whole property after the park’s opening. Earlier this month, the district established a ban on using “intoxicants” in any park, which includes the use of marijuana.

Ainsleigh said it’s time for a discussion and, hopefully, action on the idea of a smoking ban.

“My feeling is we don’t need a lot more information – the Lung Association say’s we’re greatly out-of-step,” Ainsleigh said.

Both the city of Auburn and the county scored ‘F’s’ in all categories in a report card from the non-profit on controlling tobacco use. The annual “State of Tobacco Control” report assigned grades to all California cities and counties on what it considers key tobacco-control issues, including smoking in parks.

Ainsleigh said he would like to see a ban go into effect.

“The only way you could smoke in a park is if you’re in a vehicle with the windows closed – and you’re the only one in it,” Ainsleigh said.

Ainsleigh’s request also comes after the city of Auburn initiated its own look at a possible ban on smoking at the School Park Preserve, across from Placer High School.

Muscott said that if the committee and then the board moved forward with a ban, it would be in the form of an ordinance.

With the district for almost 13 years, Muscott said that the effort by Ainsleigh was the first time he knew of that a board member had requested a smoking ban at parks.