Minneapolis parks are going 100 percent tobacco free.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board passed a new tobacco policy this week, which bans the use of all tobacco products from parks and park board owned and operated facilities.
This includes chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes (these weren't banned under the old policy). But the policy doesn't include the use of tobacco for traditional Native American ceremonies that are approved by the park board.
"This policy supports our mission to promote healthy lifestyles and environments for residents and park visitors across Minneapolis, and will contribute to many park patrons’ use and enjoyment of our system," Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Jayne Miller said in a news release.
This new policy goes into effect May 8. The park board will spend the first year of the new policy educating people about it, including by posting tobacco-free signs in parks. Then, after the first year, those who violate the policy may be asked to leave park property.
This new policy brings Minneapolis in line with nearly 30 other metro area park systems that already have complete tobacco bans, the park board says. And the Association for Nonsmokers Minnesota says 150 communities have created tobacco-free recreation areas – you can search through a directory of these places here.
Smoking in Minnesota
A survey of Minneapolis residents last summer found that more than half of them (67 percent) had been exposed to secondhand smoke in a local park, while 69 percent had seen trash from tobacco products on park property, the release says.
Meanwhile, 60 percent of residents supported Minneapolis parks going 100 percent tobacco free, the release says. A statewide survey in 2007 found that 70 percent of people supported tobacco-free policies.
Overall, smoking has declined in Minnesota. According to the most recent Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey, 14.4 percent of people were smokers in 2014. That’s the lowest ever recorded.
Still, more than 6,000 Minnesotans die from tobacco use each year. Smoking is expensive for the state, too. It costs Minnesota more than $3 billion annually in health care costs.
On a national level, 500,000 people die from tobacco use every year. It costs $289 to $332.5 billion a year, according to Tobacco21.org.