News and Events

The Importance of Tobacco Free Environments
March 11, 2020

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four nonsmokers in the United States are exposed to secondhand smoke. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, and exposure can cause irreparable harm to those exposed. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of respiratory diseases, asthma, and ear infections. For adults, exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke. For electronic cigarettes, the aerosol produced contains known harmful chemicals; however, the long term and secondhand effects of these products remain widely unknown.

The best way to protect communities from secondhand smoke exposure is through the adoption of tobacco-free policies. Previous tobacco-free environment policies show reduced exposure among visitors, improved air quality, and improved health for people who were once regularly exposed. In addition to protecting adults and children, tobacco-free policies can address tobacco-related litter, the number one littered product globally.  Adopting a tobacco-free policy can also decrease the use of tobacco products and increase the use of cessation services among current smokers.

Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in the United States and is responsible for 480,000 annually. Tobacco-free environment policies can greatly benefit worksites, multi-unit housing, and community spaces and events that chose to adopt a comprehensive policy. A complete tobacco-free policy should include combustible tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco products.

One year ago, the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners adopted a local resolution creating tobacco-free parks and beaches. Through collaboration with Students Working Against Tobacco, the Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to protect the health and wellbeing of residents at local parks. If you visit a county park today, you are likely to see one of many tobacco-free parks signs displayed. SWAT youth played a pivotal role in educating on the dangers of secondhand smoke in parks and continue to educate community members on the importance of tobacco-free policies.

It is never too late to adopt a tobacco-free policy for your business or event. The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County strives to achieve the goal of reducing the health hazards of secondhand smoke and tobacco use in public space. We work with worksites, multi-unit housing, and community spaces and events to adopt comprehensive tobacco-free policies and provide assistance. If you are interested in adopting a tobacco-free policy, please contact


  1. Centers for Disease Control. (2018, January 17). Secondhand Smoke (SHS) Facts. Retrieved from
  2. Centers for Disease Control. (2018, January 17). Smokefree Policies Improve Health. Retrieved from
  3. Centers for Disease Control32. (2018, January 17). Smokefree Policies Reduce Secondhand Smoke Exposure. Retrieved from