Smoke-Free Park Initiative

Smoke-Free Park Initiative

Arlington County values a safe and healthy environment. The Smoke-Free Parks Initiative asks park patrons to refrain from smoking within 50 feet of areas of congregation in our parks such as ball fields, pavilions and playgrounds.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe threshold of exposure to second-hand smoke. To the extent possible, it is important for the County to take action to prevent park patrons’ exposure to this dangerous health hazard. Children may be especially vulnerable, which is why the Smoke-Free Parks Initiative is specifically targeting areas where children congregate.

Because of the nature of the County’s current authority to ban smoking in outdoor public spaces, the Initiative’s initial approach is to ask park users to respect our community values related to a healthy and safe environment by helping us to reduce second-hand smoke exposure in parks.

In many cases County property abuts APS property so there are different signs on portions of what appear to be the same campus.  Because schools have broader authority over activities on their outdoor property, Arlington Public Schools (APS) have signs that ban the use of tobacco and drugs.

Work on the Smoke-Free Parks Initiative began in 2008, as an initiative of Arlington County Board Member Walter Tejada to discourage smoking in Arlington’s public parks. In early 2010, Arlington was awarded an Action Communities for Health Innovation and EnVironmental changE (ACHIEVE) grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association. The grant has been co-managed by staff from the Departments of Parks and Recreation and Human Services. The award of the ACHIEVE grant, which targets several chronic disease risk factors, assisted with the campaign to address second-hand smoke exposure in parks.

Did you know? Smoke-Free Parks makes sense!

  • According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe threshold of exposure to second-hand smoke. It has over 4,000 chemicals in it, and most of these chemicals are toxic and cause cancer.
  • Parks are healthy places for youth, families and community. The more tobacco free places we have the fewer opportunities youth have to start using.
  • The Smoke-Free Parks Initiative promote positive role modeling. Adults are role models and the more youth see tobacco use, the more it becomes an accepted norm and the more likely they are to use tobacco products.
  • The Smoke-Free Parks Initiative reduces litter. In smoke free parks you won’t see discarded cigarettes that pollute land and water.  Further, discarded cigarettes are often ingested by toddlers and pets and they diminish aesthetics of parks and nature and cost the County in additional maintenance expense.

Need help to quit smoking? Call the Virginia Quit Now Hotline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669). This is a toll-free phone service provided to Virginia residents aged 13 and older. Calls are answered 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Services for the hearing impaired are available through a separate TTY line (1-877-777-6534)