Learning Objectives: Explain the process of adopting and implementing a tobacco free policy in a city or county park system.
Abstract: Snohomish Health District and Marysville Parks and Recreation Department joined efforts in November 2001 to launch a tobacco free policy for 17 city parks. The goal of adopting the policy was to educate the community about the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and to encourage park patrons not to light up.
Snohomish Health District approached the Parks Board in the fall of 2001, urging them to consider a tobacco free policy. The Board unanimously agreed, with the purpose to protect children.
Snohomish Health District assisted the Parks Board to create a tobacco free proclamation, write media a release, plan a kick off ceremony, and purchase signs to promote the new policy. Marysville students disseminate the tobacco free park message by distributing seat cushions, balloons, and information about the dangers of ETS.
Public awareness about ETS increased significantly throughout Marysville, Snohomish County, and Washington State because of this project. Articles were published in newspapers throughout the state. Due to the media coverage, five other city parks systems plan to implement similar tobacco free policies. These developments have sparked public feedback on radio talk shows and in newspaper editorials.
Educating leaders about the dangers of ETS and the importance of keeping public places tobacco free is crucial to moving forward with policy change. Most leaders favor a policy that protects kids. Controversy can arise with smokers who feel their rights are being taken away. Use the controversy to attract the media and bring the issue to the forefront of people’s minds.
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