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Tobacco-free parks

Tobacco-free parks

Sustainability and enforcement plan

Today, more than ever, community leaders understand that improving the health and well-being of individuals and families means changing health-related behaviors—and that means addressing factors that influence those behaviors. Communities need to ensure that they maintain the capacity to work in partnership to identify and address public health challenges, and that their resulting health initiatives can have lasting—that is, sustainable—impact. According to Americans for Nonsmoker's Rights, over 1000 municipalities now have Tobacco Free Park regulations, while another 200 have Tobacco Free Beach Policy.

Sustainability is about creating and building momentum to maintain community-wide change by organizing and maximizing community assets and resources. It means institutionalizing policies and practices within communities and organizations. Communication and enforcement are crucial to ensuring lasting change and making a difference in people's lives. For that purpose we have created this fact sheet to help park and community leadership maintain and improve your current Tobacco-Free Park Policy.

Rationale for tobacco-free parks

  • Tobacco-free environments protect/and promote the health, safety, and welfare of the community.
  • A tobacco-free parks policy creates consistency for youth recreation facilities in the community, since most school districts prohibit tobacco use/possession at their outdoor facilities.
  • Policies for city-owned facilities support local groups (soccer clubs, etc.) who use city facilities and promote healthy lifestyles.
  • Discarded cigarette butts are litter, requiring maintenance expenses, and can be ingested by toddlers, pets and wildlife.
  • Many park fires are started by smoldering cigarettes.

Policy assessment

  • Consider including questions regarding smoking in parks on any annual park user surveys to assess patrons awareness and/or experience with the policy.
  • Ask grounds crews to monitor tobacco litter in parks (best if done both before and after policy implementation) and use the data to determine if your policy communication is adequately meeting expectations.

Policy promotion/communication

  • Install appropriate number of signs at prominent locations within the park and/or parking lots.
  • Maintain, repair/replace and/or add additional signage as necessary to effectively communicate policy.
  • Use banners or other temporary signs to celebrate implementation of new policy.
  • Issue press release upon implementation highlighting new policy and informing community about how to address violators.
  • Review policy at the end of the first year and make changes as needed to ensure compliance and staff support.

Maintaining compliance/enforcement

  • Require park staff to immediately address any violators appropriately.
  • Similar to other park policies, such as alcohol and litter policies, the primary enforcement tool is signage and communication to staff and community.
  • Continue to include information about the new regulations in policy manuals, newsletters, and email updates.
  • Requiring signed tobacco-free statements from teams, participants, coaches, and parents is another way to notify park users and support enforcement of the policy.
  • Some parks ask violators to leave the facility for the remainder of the event for non-compliance.
  • Ensure that staff and community know and understand adopted enforcement procedures.

For more information on tobacco-free parks such as model policies, a copy of our tobacco-free parks toolkit, or a presentation on tobacco-free parks for community leaders please contact:

Tobacco Prevention Program
Public Health - Seattle & King County
Phone: 206-263-8271