Onslow Parks Go Nicotine Free

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Ordinance Prohibits the use of all Tobacco and Nicotine Products in Public Parks

The Area Substance Abuse Council in partnership with the Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition would like to recognize the city of Onslow for its recently passed ordinance prohibiting the use of all tobacco and nicotine products in its public parks. Such a measure represents a proactive approach to limiting harmful tobacco exposure, as well as a responsive move to safeguard the health of its citizens.

The ordinance, officially passed on September 12th, applies to all tobacco and nicotine products, as well as the use of electronic smoking devices, commonly referred to as e-cigarettes, in all public parks. An exception is made for those products that are prescribed for, or are marketed or designed for aiding in smoking cessation. This comprehensive language helps to safeguard against the litany of health concerns related to tobacco exposure in public places, including second-hand smoking, environmental waste, and accidental contact with tobacco-related residue by small children or animals.

While Onslow marks the first community in Jones County to pass such a measure, many communities in neighboring counties have taken similar steps, including Lisbon, Springville, Coggon, Mount Vernon, and Marion. The reasons for going nicotine free can vary by community, with many localities wishing to make their parks a welcoming and inviting place. These communities feel tobacco usage can deter potential visitors to the parks, and also send a message to youth that such usage is normal or socially acceptable.

Other communities feel compelled to act based on health concerns as well, with some research suggesting that second-hand smoke outdoors can be comparable to indoor exposure up to a distance of 13 feet away. Cigarette butt waste and other tobacco residue represent a significant environmental issue as they are not biodegradable, and potentially lethal when ingested. Add to this the clean-up and upkeep costs tobacco waste can incur, and you have a number of reasons why a community may feel prohibiting such products is well within the public interest.

For more information, or to learn about how your community’s parks can go nicotine free, please contact Jeffrey Meyers with the Area Substance Abuse Council and the Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition by calling 319-390-1884 ext. 205 or e-mailing jmeyers@asac.us.