Park Board Approves Drafting of Amendment to Ban Tobacco on all District Property

The March 13 Park Board Meeting saw discussion over changes to the District’s Park and Facility User Ordinance, specifically an amendment to ban tobacco use on District property. Based on the information presented by the Board Policy Committee at the meeting, the Park Board approved moving forward with the drafting of an amendment which bans tobacco use on all District property except at the Sugar Creek Golf Course, which would be excluded at this time due to the intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Villa Park.

Current Park District regulations include prohibitions on smoking at all indoor facilities and within 20 feet of District buildings, concession service areas, playgrounds and participants and spectators at an organized District or District affiliate group program or event. This prohibition extends to the use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes and unregulated nicotine products.

There are environmental and cost savings benefits associated with tobacco bans. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and remain visible in the parks until they are removed, making it a litter issue. Studies have also found that levels of secondhand smoke in outdoor areas can be equal to amounts found indoors and that it can cause respiratory irritation and may trigger asthma attacks.

Research shows that the public is open to supporting tobacco ban policies. The National Park and Recreation Association found in a 2016 poll that nearly four in five Americans support policies that prohibit the use of tobacco products at park and recreation facilities.  A study conducted in 2015 by the University of Illinois found that 43% of park district and municipal park departments in Illinois were smoke free. Several park agencies in DuPage County are smoke-free, including Addison, Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Oak Brook and Warrenville.

Park Board Commissioners voiced support for the amendment. Commissioner Morissette-Moll was “glad we’re moving in this direction for our parks, especially for our children who are playing at the parks and might be there without their parents.”

The Board has directed Park District staff to draft the amendment to the District’s Park and Facility User Ordinance to reflect the ban, bring the amended Ordinance to the Board for approval and provide an education and enforcement plan for implementing the ban.