Smoke-free parks policies catching on
For more information regarding Colusa County Tobacco Education Program or smoke-free park policies, contact Rebecca Root at 458-0380 or email at Rebecca.Root@colusadhhs.org.
The Arbuckle Parks and Recreation District is coming up on an unusual anniversary.
Since Oct. 8 of last year, the parks within the district have been tobacco-free, or at least that has been the intent.
"We felt our district needed to make this commitment to keep our parks looking beautiful. Recreation should be accessible to all individuals and they deserve parks that are free from negative influences. We are trying to hold our district to a higher standard," Ellen Voorhees, president of the recreation district, said in a statement released through the Colusa County Public Health Department.
The ordinance prohibits the use of all tobacco products within 50 feet of the edge of Arbuckle parks, including bleacher areas and access roads.
The same ordinance also restricts possession and consumption of alcohol without a proper permit, and prohibits skateboarding.
Anyone violating the policy can be charged with an infraction or misdemeanor.
The recreation district is not alone in its effort.
According to Public Health, more than 100 California communities have adopted smoke-free park policies, including Orland, which set aside smoking areas.
The county agency argues there is reason to be concerned, noting the US surgeon general's opinion that "there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke." This is not only harmful for adults but the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports it also places children at an increased risk for asthma, respiratory infections, colds, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome, the Health Department reported.
And the health risk extends to the litter problem, too.
In June 2011, more than 1,000 pieces of tobacco litter were picked up from three of Colusa County's most visited parks, Public Health reported.
Furthermore, the agency reports that 80 percent of 267 park visitors in Arbuckle, Colusa and Williams indicated they support smoke-free parks.
Additionally, 50 percent of the smokers who responded to the poll said they would be in favor of creating a smoke-free park environment.
Voorhees credited the Colusa County supervisors and Sheriff's Department for helping with the signs at the parks.