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Poll shows majority want smoke-free parks

Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 @ 7:30 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 @ 7:30 PM
By: Drew Simon - Staff Writer

Local park districts are evaluating policies after results from a recent survey showed more than half of Montgomery County residents surveyed were interested in tobacco-free parks.

“The goal of the survey was just to get a temperature of the community as to what they’re feeling about 100 percent tobacco-free parks,” said Bruce Barcelo, tobacco prevention and cessation manager for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

The survey, a joint project between Public Health and Wright State University’s School of Professional Psychology, revealed 56 percent of respondents desired tobacco-free parks.

“We feel like if every different community did their own survey, the results could very well be different,” Barcelo said, adding that the survey was not an effort to target smokers themselves.

Pam Parker is the co-founder of Opponents of Ohio Bans, a group of Ohio citizens who oppose all bans.

“Banning smoking in parks is just another way of trying to force people to quit smoking,” Parker said Tuesday.

The city of Miamisburg performed a survey in 2012 evaluating public opinion on healthy lifestyles and life choices, which included the idea of smoking in public parks, said Gary Giles, spokesman for Miamisburg.

Barcelo said 78 percent of the respondents in that survey favored smoke-free parks.

“We know that reducing smoking in public places is one of the most impactful tobacco reduction initiatives Public Health can encourage,” Barcelo said.

Centerville-Washington Park District, which includes 44 parks in the Centerville and Washington Twp. area, has looked into tobacco-free park policies in the past, but doesn’t currently have any rules in place restricting tobacco use, with the exception of its Schoolhouse Park on Nutt Road.

The district’s director hopes Public Health’s survey results can provide additional insight into what residents in Centerville and Washington Twp. want when it comes to public parks.

“We’re really interested in what the public has to say about this,” said Carol Kennard, the park district’s director. “Obviously as a park district we are very supportive of healthy initiatives, healthy activities; that’s what the parks are all about.”

Five Rivers Metroparks also is researching the survey’s results to see if any policy changes should take place at its 19 facilities.