Providence Parks go smoke and tobacco free

Mayor Taveras Announces Providence Parks Go Smoke and Tobacco-Free

Newly-signed ordinance bans the sale and use of tobacco in all of the city's parks

- Mayor Angel Taveras Friday announced that Providence Parks will go tobacco free beginning March 11 of next year with the signing the tobacco-free parks ordinance into law last evening. Council President Michael A. Solomon and Majority Leader Seth Yurdin were lead sponsors of the ordinance which bans the use and sale of all tobacco products in the city's parks.

“With this ordinance, we continue the ongoing work to reduce youth tobacco use, reduce exposure to secondhand smoke for all Providence residents and visitors and further transform our city parks into neighborhood centers of wellness,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “Much credit goes to Council President Solomon and Majority Leader Yurdin for their leadership.”

Solomon and Yurdin introduced the ordinance in July.

“In passing this ordinance, the Council continues its track record of adopting laws that protect children from the dangers of tobacco,” said Solomon. “By prohibiting the use of tobacco products in our parks, playgrounds, and recreation areas, we will reduce the amount of exposure our kids have to nicotine and second-hand smoke, as well as the health risks associated with tobacco.”

Yurdin added, “Everyone should be able to enjoy the fresh air in our parks and open spaces without having to breathe in harmful cigarette smoke. We'll continue to do everything possible to keep tobacco products away from minors, and this ordinance is another step in the right direction.”

The ordinance came after the city's Board of Park Commissioners, which Mayor Taveras chairs, voted in the spring to establish a tobacco-free policy.  The ordinance codifies that policy into city law and establishes a $50 fine for violations. The ban on the use and sale of tobacco products covers all of Roger Williams Park, all neighborhood parks as well as Kennedy Plaza, which is leased by the City's Board of Park Commissioners to the RI Public Transit Authority. Smoking has already been banned in the Roger Williams Park Zoo.

“I want to commend Mayor Taveras and the entire City Council for taking this crucial action to remove tobacco use from Providence's parks,” said Dr. Michael Fine, Director of the RI Department of Health. “Providence has been a great leader statewide in reducing the harm of tobacco to public health and this is another inspiring step.”

Evidence shows that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which contains over 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke is particularly dangerous to infants and children, causing more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

“With this new ordinance for Smoke Free Parks, the Mayor and the City Council are providing another important tool to enable Providence to become a healthier city,” said Robert McMahon, Providence's Superintendent of Parks and Recreation. “Parents and children can now go to playgrounds and attend youth sports events in our parks without worrying about second hand smoke.”

In addition to addressing secondhand smoke, the ordinance protects children by creating a tobacco-free environment and limits youth exposure to use of other non-smoke tobacco and nicotine products such as chewing tobacco, snus and electronic cigarettes. Products approved by the Food and Drug Administration for smoking cessation are not included in the ban.

"Kudos to Mayor Taveras and the Providence City Council for designating Providence public parks as smoke free spaces for our children and all residents to enjoy safely,” said Karen Daigle, MD, Chair of the American Lung Association in Rhode Island. “Protecting children from secondhand smoke is important to their healthy development."

Providence now joins nearly one thousand other American cities and towns with smoke free parks, including Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC.

(release from City of Providence)