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Where We Play

Tobacco And Smoke Free Parks

Tobacco-Free Parks

Tobacco-free parks are parks where use of all tobacco products including chewing tobacco, dip, snuff, etc. is prohibited on park property. Smoke-free parks are parks where the use of combustible products like cigarettes, cigars, etc. is prohibited on park property. Tobacco and smoke-free parks can be identified by protections included as part of the parks policies. Those who smoke can enjoy the parks, but tobacco use in the parks would be not be allowed.

Benefits Of Tobacco-Free Parks

Many community residents use parks as a way to increase their physical activity, enjoy time with family, and explore nature. Unfortunately, secondhand smoke and litter from tobacco products can make the park environment harmful to residents. Reasons to make your park tobacco/smoke-free:

  • Over 480,000 deaths are caused by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in the United States.
  • Cigarettes and cigarette butts are the most littered item in the entire world – more than 4.5 trillion cigarettes are littered each year. Cigarette butts have also proven to be slow to decompose and costly to clean up.
  • Absence of tobacco in parks protects children by reducing the perception that tobacco use is healthy, acceptable adult behavior.
  • Children often pick cigarette butts up and place them in their mouths, putting them at risk for toxic chemicals. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study concluded that one-third of children who had ingested cigarette butts exhibited symptoms of illness such as spontaneous vomiting, nausea, lethargy, and gagging.
  • By becoming a tobacco/smoke-free park district, Cook County residents will be able to enjoy the clean air and environments they deserve.

By The Numbers

  • 4 in 5 suburban Cook County residents do not smoke.
  • 16 percent in Illinois (Source: Illinois Department of Public Health)
  • 57% of suburban Cook County residents polled say that they would support smoke-free public outdoor places.
  • 52% say they would find parks more enjoyable if they were smoke-free.

Do You Want Your Park To Go Tobacco Or Smoke-Free?

The resources below can help you if you’re thinking about making your park district tobacco- or smoke-free.

Connect Park Visitors To Quit Smoking Resources

  • Notify visitors of the free Illinois Tobacco Quitline which provides quit resources including counseling, tips for quitting, and practical ideas for staying tobacco-free.
  • Hand out the fact sheets below:

Become A Recognized Healthy Hotspot

To be recognized as a tobacco or smoke-free park location, the Parks Director must complete this PDF form and submit it with supporting documentation to healthyhotspot@cookcountyhhs.org. Please allow 6-8 weeks for review.

Healthy HotSpot partners are working to advance tobacco/smoke-free policies and protections in park districts throughout suburban Cook County. We encourage park district directors, superintendents, and other staff to contact the Cook County Department of Public Health with questions/comments regarding the Healthy Hotspot tobacco/smoke-free parks initiative.

For more information contact healthyhotspot@cookcountyhhs.org.

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