Note from the festival director Egan Orion:
If you've been following news in the Seattle Times and SGN, as well as posts on blogs around the city, you may have noticed a bit of a dust-up about our PrideFest 2011 Tobacco Policy for vendors and sponsors. We've put together some questions and answers below for those who want to get more information on what the policy is, what it isn't, and why we're working with Gay City Health Project on it. Our biggest wish, at Pride, is for participating businesses and non-profits to stand with us to support LGBT health and wellness.
What is PrideFest requiring vendors to do?
Every public event has requirements for vendors, and PrideFest is no different. Requirements are spelled out clearly before participants register (see Vendor Pricing & Rules), and this year we added a new requirement. Working with Gay City and Public Health, we added a requirement for vendors (including non-profit organizations) to adopt a tobacco policy. It could be as simple as posting a smoking Quit-Line number in their break room. Some organizations have wanted to adopt more specific and far-reaching commitments to their volunteers and/or employees for smoking cessation, and Gay City has worked with those organizations to draft updated policies. The bar to achieve this is very low, and doesn't necessarily require changes to official policy and certainly shouldn't cost an organization a dime. The LGBT has a higher-than-average rate of smoking versus the general population, with the corresponding long-term health consequences. We think it's important for organizations that serve our community to offer resources to help people quit, connecting LGBT and allied communities with health resources they otherwise might not have access to.
Isn't requiring this policy expensive and difficult for small businesses and non-profits to adopt?
It shouldn't cost a dime and takes but a minute. For small organizations, it may be as easy as posting a Quit-Line phone number and simply stating that your business or organization is committed to their employees health and wellness and for those who want to quit, resources are available, and here's what they are. Businesses and non-profits don't have to offer smoking cessation services themselves. They can refer them to the Quit-Line or, if they provide healthcare to their employees, programs may already be in place to support smoking cessation.
What does this have to do with Pride at all?
Pride is a community celebration, and through our support of non-profits and many causes over the year, our goal is to help the community have more rights, be healthy and strong, and to celebrate these victories. Having organizations with access to our community support our health and wellness doesn't seem like a step too far, it seems like something we should have done long ago.
Shouldn't all businesses and organizations have a right to be at PrideFest without any requirements?
It's hard enough to run a small business or non-profit. We know that first-hand. But there is no right to be at a public event. There are always requirements - no stickers, brand requirements for beverage sales, no sampling of food for non-restaurant vendors, permits and licenses, and much more. Asking an organization to provide a Quit-Line number to their employees or volunteers and to commit to not take money from big tobacco companies (which is sometimes the minimum we're asking for) is the simplest of all of these. For non-profits, we provide space at the Pride Festival at below cost, because we think non-profits are vital to the health of our community. They provide a vital service to the community so we make the barrier to entry less for them and have corporations pick up the extra. If you're getting a subsidized booth rental at PrideFest, we don't think it's too much to ask for you to make at least some small gesture of your support for smoking cessation and against the influence of big tobacco on our community.
Why are you demonizing smokers?
We're not targeting behavior or people. PrideFest and Gay City are, with many in the community, long-time supporters of LGBT health and wellness, and it makes sense that those who have access to our community at events like PrideFest should make some sort of basic commitment to our health too. One Degree Events, the producer of PrideFest, has NO desire to tell people who they should hire, or to have any sort of smoking requirement or ban on smoking for employees. We're not targeting smokers at all, merely asking PrideFest vendors to commit to offering basic resources to those who want to quit. Post a number. Make a statement. Commit to not taking big tobacco money. Easy.
So are you going to make PrideFest a non-smoking event?
Absolutely not. Smoking rules at the Seattle Center will follow those for every other public event held there. No smoking within 25 feet of building entrances and no smoking in places where there are employees working (like the beer gardens). We at One Degree Events don't intend to support any new smoking restrictions beyond the current laws on the books.
If you questions about this new policy, please contact us.