Springfield working to keep smoking away from parks; Jax next?

By Jim McCabe on September 1 at 11:32am

Morgan County health officials are keeping a close eye on a move by Springfield toward eliminating cigarette smoking in public parks.

According to a report by our TV news partners at Channel 20 last week, the Springfield Park District and Sangamon County Health Department are working to create “kid-friendly zones” in parks where smoking won’t be allowed.

Park participation is voluntary right now, with 120 kid-friendly zone signs posted in six park districts reminding people to keep playground areas smoke free.

There are no ordinances that prohibit smoking in any of Jacksonville’s parks. Morgan County Health Department Administrator Dale Bainter supports any measure that discourages smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke.

“Annual exposure to second-hand smoke causes an estimated 3,000 deaths from lung cancer, and that’s in adults in the United States alone,” says Bainter. “So, if we can prevent people from being exposed to that, we’re definitely going to support it in any way we can.”

Bainter says the Morgan County Health Department continues to offer people who want to quit smoking a chance.

“We currently have a Smoke Free Illinois coordinator, and she participates in the smoking cessation product program, which does allow for signup of individuals who are trying to stop smoking,” he says. [She] provides smoking cessation products to those individuals such as gum.”

He adds that the department continues to work with community partners in enforcement of the Smoke Free Illinois law, which bans smoking in restaurants, bars and other public areas. Bainter says complaints about people smoking in those locations in Morgan County have gone down in the last five years.

“There are currently some transitions taking place at the state level, and they are reviewing the rules that can be enforced for Smoke Free Illinois, because there was some clarification needed regarding outside patio areas where employees have to go, or beer gardens, if you want to use that term,” he says.

“And the state is working towards clarifying those definitions so that the Smoke Free Illinois Act will be more enforceable for our staff.”

Bainter notes that tobacco use in general is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

If you are interested in quitting smoking, visit the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at www.quityes.org. You can also call 1-866-QUIT-YES.