Tobacco-Free Parks Makes Sense for the Community:
Did you know that approximately 10% of Will County eighth grade students and about 39% of Will County twelfth grade students are currently using tobacco products or vaping devices? (Will County Illinois Youth Survey, 2018). According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, about 11,100 kids under 18 become new daily smokers in Illinois each year. As youth are easily influenced by the people around them, how can we, as a community, work to ensure that youth are surrounded by positive role models? By prohibiting tobacco use at recreational facilities, parks, and playgrounds, we can help establish a tobacco-free community norm and can promote a healthier environment!
- Secondhand smoke is stillharmful in outdoor public places. It can reach levels as high as in indoor facilities where smoking is permitted.
- Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
- Non-smokers that are exposed to outdoor tobacco smoke can suffer immediate symptoms such as breathing difficulties, eye irritation, headaches, nausea, and asthma attacks.
- The Environmental Protection Agency categorizes secondhand smoke as a known human carcinogen, a cancer-causing chemical, in the same category as radon, benzene, and asbestos.
- Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world. They are also a fire hazard, can increase park maintenance expenses, and can be eaten by toddlers, birds, pets, and other animals.
- Cigarette filters are not biodegradable and can take at least 5-10 years to decompose.
- The chemicals in cigarette butts, such as hydrogen, cyanide, and arsenic, can leak in to the soil and water.
It Promotes Healthy Communities!
- Tobacco-free policies establish the community norm that tobacco use is an unacceptable behavior for youth and adults.
- Coaches and recreational leaders become tobacco-free role models, illustrating to youth that tobacco use is not a healthy lifestyle choice.
- Tobacco-free parks break the connection between tobacco and sports. Sports and other physical activity improve health and help reduce preventable diseases like heart disease, hypertension, and cancer. However, secondhand smoke and tobacco use increase the risk of these same preventable diseases.
Be Part of a National Trend:
All over the country, Municipalities and Park Districts are developing tobacco-free/smoke-free outdoor policies: http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/SmokefreeParks.pdf.
In Will County, most parks have tobacco policies! The following map illustrates Will County Municipalities and outdoor tobacco-free or smoke-free parks and recreation policies!
We Can Help:
If you are interested in your community parks going tobacco-free and need resources and assistance, please contact the Tobacco Control & Prevention Program at (815) 727-8769. Complete the Materials Request Form order tobacco-free parks toolkits or signage. All of our services and materials are Free!