News and Events

Indian River County Creates Tobacco Free Environments in Parks
January 15, 2019

Why consider creating a tobacco free environment? Indian River County decided to make a significant difference in the lives of residents and visitors in January 2019. Believing that a fundamental purpose of local governments is to promote, protect, and improve the health, safety and general welfare of its citizens and visitors, Indian River County Commissioners deliberated how tobacco use in recreational and leisure facilities negatively impact people and the environment.

After having individual meetings with SWAT members in late 2018, all five Indian River County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a Resolution on January 15th that created tobacco-free environments in all county parks and recreation areas. Thanks to Commissioners Adams, Flescher, O’Bryan, Solari and Zorc for supporting health and taking this step towards reducing the community’s exposure to tobacco.

Because the FDA considers electronic cigarettes to be tobacco products, the Resolution includes both traditional tobacco products and electronic nicotine dispensing systems. Not to be confused with an ordinance or rule, the Resolution requests people to refrain from smoking in parks and recreation areas for a number of reasons.

Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death. Secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen and it puts children in danger of respiratory diseases, asthma and ear infections. Half of all regular smokers will die of a tobacco related illness. Toddlers or wildlife that pick up liquid nicotine pods or cigarette butts may become sick or die from what remains of nicotine or other chemicals. Bacteria or viruses from users can spread via residue from spit tobacco. Electronic cigarettes emit aerosol, not water vapor. They have been known to explode and not enough is known about long term negative effects of using ENDS. Tobacco butts are still the number one littered item in the world and Indian River is no exception. Any tobacco use in recreational environments and facilities sends a contradictory message to people who are using parks for activities that are beneficial to their health.


Asked about the effectiveness of a resolution, QuitDoc Foundation’s Community Health Advocate Leslie Spurlock said, “When asked to do the right thing, most people will,“ she added, “until preemption is overturned at the State level, we will continue to set policies locally. Collectively, local policies send a message to our legislative representatives and tobacco lobbyists, that we want local control over tobacco use in public places where it can harm our neighbors and our environment”.