After years of work building community support, Tobacco Free Network worked successfully with the city of Grand Rapids to protect children from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Effective January 1, 2021, all Grand Rapids parks and playgrounds became smoking/vaping-free zones.
Congratulations to the city of Grand Rapids!
The Clean Air and Public Places Ordinance in Grand Rapids is an update to the city’s existing Clean Indoor Air Ordinance. Details on what changed, why it is important and how it is being enforced can be found at: https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Government/Departments/Parks-and-Recreation/Clean-Air-and-Public-Places-Ordinance
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There are several advantages to having parks and recreational areas tobacco-free.
Advantage #1: Healthy environments for healthy living. Secondhand smoke causes heart disease, cancer, respiratory problems, and ear infections and also worsens asthma. Children, older adults, people with special health needs, and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the health risks caused by secondhand smoke exposure, even in outdoor environments. Tobacco-free parks provide families healthy environments in which they are not exposed to the health harms of secondhand smoke.
Advantage #2: No cigarette butts or other tobacco litter. Cigarette and spit tobacco litter is poisonous to children and wildlife. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the entire country. Americans discard an estimated 175 million pounds of cigarette butts every year. Studies show that cigarette butts are toxic, slow to decompose, and costly to clean up. Cigarette butts can cause digestive blockages if eaten, and they have been found in the stomachs of animals like fish and birds. Children routinely pick cigarette butts up and place them in their mouths — putting them at risk for nicotine poisoning. Butts that are not fully put out also pose a fire and burn risk.
Advantage #3: Walking the talk. Michigan has a growing number of tobacco-free parks and even beaches. Each demonstrates a healthy, tobacco-free community norm, especially for our youth. Allowing tobacco use in parks, on beaches, and in other recreation areas where youth and families with young children gather sends a dangerous, mixed message about healthy living. Tobacco use is not a behavior that we want to model for the children in our communities. Research shows that tobacco-free parks policies can reduce — and even prevent — tobacco use among kids.
Adapted from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71550_2955_2973-340373--,00.html