By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Santee middle school age youth and high school students learn about the health risks associated to secondhand smoke and how tobacco waste like cigarette butts hurt their environment.
December 13, 2017 (Santee) – Santee is the last city in San Diego County to still allow smoking in public parks. But that could soon change. On Thursday, December 14th at 6:30 p.m., the Santee Parks and Recreation Committee will consider a smoke-free ordinance and recommendation to the City Council to make parks and open spaces smoke-free. The meeting will be held at Santee City Hall’s Community Services building #7, 10601 North Magnolia Avenue in Santee.
Local youth and park enthusiasts along with public health advocates have documented the impact of tobacco-related litter and the nuisance associated with tobacco use in all nine Santee Parks.
A recent survey conducted in Santee demonstrates overwhelmingly support smoke-free outdoor spaces and public parks, the Santee Solutions Coalition reports:
- 91% of people surveyed agree smoke-free parks are healthier for everyone!  \
- <6% of people surveyed support the current practice of allowing unrestricted smoking throughout Santee parks 
- Survey respondents agree that secondhand smoke is a nuisance and produces unhealthy air for children playing (91%), people eating (86%) and exercising such as walking, jogging, bike riding (86%) 
Years of research demonstrates that smoke-free parks protect the health and quality of life of residents and visitors.
- Children exposed to secondhand smoke/vape are more likely to suffer from colds, ear infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
- Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous to children AND adults with asthma or other chronic illness because it makes their condition worse and triggers asthma attacks.
- Secondhand smoke has been identified as a Toxic Air Contaminant by the California Air Resource Board. This puts secondhand smoke in the same category as diesel exhaust, arsenic, and benzene.
- Vape is not simply water vapor. E-cigarettes have at least 10 toxic chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive harm.
- Smoke-free parks help guard children and adults from secondhand tobacco exposure and harm.