Smoking in Keizer city parks was a topic at this week’s city council meeting. Two citizens asked the council to ban smoking in parks—for quality of life reasons and for fire danger reasons.

The Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has decided not to advise for a smoking ban in city parks in part because of Constitutional issues. That’s political correctness gone all whacky.

Salem, Marion County and the state of Oregon have banned smoking in all their respective parks. Keizer usually fashions ordinances on what surrounding jurisdictions have imposed. It’s hard to understand why this particular issue is hard for the Parks Board and the city council to swallow.

At Monday’s council meeting several councilors said such a ban ordinance needs to go through the process—meaning public hearings, legal opinions and on and on.

Some Parks Board members are concerned about stepping on the rights of citizens who want to smoke out of doors in our parks. The parks are public spaces. Keizer does not allow smoking in the civic center. Smoking is banned in Oregon restaurants and lounges. A citizen cannot light up in the state Capitol building. There is enough precedence on this issue that the city council should move forward.

Making public spaces off-limits in parks is just expanding the no smoking rules in place. In a civil society people should get mindful of their surroundings and how their actions are affecting others. Just as some say it is their right to smoke in a park, others would say it is their right not to be subject to second-hand smoke.

The city council needs to step up and ban smoking in all city parks. It is a quality of life issue; it is also a safety issue. With our parks tinder dry due to our hot weather this summer it would take just one unextinguished cigarette butt to cause a devastating fire. While the Keizer Fire District can respond quickly to a report of a wildfire, we are at the mercy of our afternoon winds that whip in off the Willamette River. A small grass fire can quickly explode into a uncontrollable rampage that would threaten homes that surround our parks.

Do the right thing and place a smoking ban on our parks.