Following its mission of promoting a healthy and inviting environment, Willamalane Park and Recreation District implemented a tobacco and smoke-free policy in July 2015. Signs have been posted throughout the park district to inform and remind park visitors of this policy.
“This action ties into our mission and goals of promoting health and well-being, and heightens the positive experience of being outdoors, breathing fresh air and enjoying every aspect and every acre of our park system,” said Bob Keefer, superintendent at the time of the policy’s passage. He noted that the policy benefits youth and children, who are most susceptible to secondhand smoke and tend to model the behavior of others.
An additional benefit of the policy is that it will reduce the littering of cigarette butts. Studies show that cigarette butts, one of the most common forms of litter, take five to 10 years to fully decompose, while leaching toxins into the environment and waterways.
While the present policy prohibits smoking in all Willamalane buildings and facilities, and within 50 feet of district property such as playgrounds and picnic areas, the new policy covers the entire park district. It also prohibits all tobacco products and “electronic smoking devices,” defined as an electronic or battery operated device that delivers vapors for inhalation.
Enforcement has not been a significant issue at smoke-free parks in other districts statewide. However, people who refuse to comply with the new policy could be asked to leave the park.
According to a study conducted last year by Lane County Health and Human Services, the majority of those polled welcome restrictions on the use of tobacco outdoors, with 74 percent saying it was important to very important to be protected from secondhand smoke in outside public settings.
Other Oregon park districts and municipalities enacting similar policies include Bend, Medford, Roseburg, Corvallis and Portland.