Eugene Parks Are Now Smoke-free
The City of Eugene Parks and Open Space Division wants community members to get out and enjoy the fresh air in their local parks. In 2016, we made a change to park rules that makes all parks and natural areas smoke-free.
Recently the City of Eugene made a similar change to City code that makes the public spaces in the downtown core smoke-free. In addition, the code allows the expansion of smoke-free areas outside the downtown core. Read more about the smoke-free expansions.
What are the benefits of a smoke-free parks policy?
- creating a healthy and welcoming space for Eugene residents and visitors.
- reducing exposure of children and youth to smoking and tobacco use, protecting their health and discouraging them from starting a potential lifelong addiction that is harder to quit the earlier it is started.
- supporting individuals who are trying to quit smoking or tobacco use or have already quit.
- protecting parks and natural areas from environmental degradation caused by littering of cigarette butts which are the biggest form of litter worldwide, release toxicants into the environment, and take approximately 10 years to decompose.
- protecting parks and natural areas from fire risks.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in our community and each year over 700 people in Lane County die from tobacco-related illnesses. That means about 1 in 4 deaths is caused by tobacco use.
Currently more than 1,200 cities and towns nationwide have laws mandating smoke-free parks, including 64 cities, counties, and park districts in Oregon, all state-owned parks in Oregon, and Eugene’s neighboring cities of Cottage Grove, Veneta, and the Willamalane Park and Recreation District of Springfield.
"This rule change is about creating a healthy smoke-free space for all users to enjoy," said Eugene Parks and Open Space Director Craig Carnagey.
How was the community informed of the rule change? Opens a New Window.
There was a three-month education period from June through August 2016 to inform the public about the expanded smoke-free policy. Community education focused on informing members of the public and visitors about the policy and referred people to cessation information if interested. The effort included informational flyers, new park signs, a smoke-free parks webpage, outreach through local media, and information placed in city and partner agency newsletters. City employees such as park ambassadors helped share the information with park visitors.
Did the community have a chance to comment on the proposed rule change?
During the public comment period on the proposed rule change feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of creating smoke-free parks, with approximately 99 percent of respondents in support. Community members also expressed a strong desire to see the downtown park blocks included in the new rule.
What exactly does the rule prohibit?
The use of any smoking instrument or device is prohibited in all park and open space areas and facilities thereon. This prohibition also applies to the areas outside parks facilities that are within 25 feet of doors, entries, or pathways thereto, such as patios, walkways, and sidewalks. A smoking instrument or device is defined as cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, clove cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pipes, and other related products. The rule applies to the Park Blocks in downtown Eugene.
Why are e-cigarettes prohibited?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that e-cigarettes may be an emerging public health issue. More research is needed to understand the health impacts of e-cigarettes, but studies have found cancer-causing and toxic chemicals in the first and secondhand vapor. The CDC reports a sharp rise in the number of calls to U.S. Poison Control Center concerning children being poisoned by liquid nicotine. Without state or federal marketing restrictions, with the delay in setting age restrictions, and with flavors like gummy bear and girl scout cookie, more than five times as many youth in Lane County used e-cigarettes in 2015 than in 2013.
When did this policy take effect?
The rule was signed into effect in early May 2016. The education period began June 1 and continued for three months through the end of August.
Will the policy apply to events that take place in Eugene parks and natural areas?
How will the smoke-free parks policy be enforced?
The primary method of enforcement will be education and asking for voluntary compliance. Community members are one of the best enforcement tools for a smoke-free policy. Most people do not want to be exposed to secondhand smoke, and are willing to speak up if they are being exposed and know a rule is in place that is being violated. It is expected that community members will help ask people to follow the rule and stop smoking. This is how similar laws in other cities have worked, including places like Fort Collins and Boulder, Colorado.
While a violation of City park rules is a misdemeanor which could lead to a citation, the goal is to receive voluntary compliance in the park or movement of the activity outside of the smoke-free area.
What are some of the other cities and counties in Oregon that have smoke-free parks?
(partial list) Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Cottage Grove, Corvallis, Springfield, Veneta, Wilsonville, Lake Oswego, Astoria, Bandon, Clatsop County, Benton County, Bend, Roseburg, Ashland, Medford, Lincoln City, Portland, and Multnomah County
What resources are available to help people quit smoking?
Oregon health insurance providers are required to cover smoking cessation.
What are some of the benefits of quitting smoking?
- In 20 minutes blood pressure drops to normal.
- In eight hours blood carbon monoxide levels drop and oxygen increases to normal.
- In 24 hours a risk of sudden heart attack drops.
- In five days most nicotine is out of the body.
- In one to two weeks circulation and lung function improve.
- In one year risk of heart disease is cut in half.
- In 10 years risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of someone still smoking.
- In 15 years the risk of coronary disease is that of a non-smoker.
For more information about the rule change, please contact City of Eugene Parks and Open Space Outreach Manager Kelly Shadwick at 541-682-4901.
For more information on the effects of smoking and tobacco use, and local statistics and outreach efforts, contact Lane County Public Health Tobacco Prevention and Education Program Coordinator Christy Inskip at 541-682-8770, or visit www.preventionlane.org.