ST. GEORGE – Openly smoking at the Washington County Regional Park just became a thing of the past due to an ordinance passed by the Washington County County Commission Tuesday.
The ordinance bans the use of tobacco products at the regional park (also known as the county fairgrounds) and is largely based on the policy adopted by Dixie State University three years ago, Washington County Commissioner Dean Cox said.
“For the most part we just emulated what the university does,” Cox said.
A push to make the regional park tobacco-free was initiated by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department and the Washington County Youth Coalition, said Kye Nordfelt, SWUPHD’s director of health promotions.
“Tobacco is still the no. 1 cause of preventable death in America,” Nordfelt said, “and there’s no safe level of second-hand smoke.”
During a three-year period, members of the Washington County Youth Coalition documented people at the regional park smoking around the entry into the park, as well as during the middle of events they attended while surrounded by other people.
Not only did coalition members document incidents of smoking at the events, but they also took surveys of people concerning whether or not they wanted the regional park to be smoke-free.
Over 90 percent wanted their families to have “a tobacco-free experience” while attending the events at the park, Nordfelt said.
So the Health Department and the coalition took their suggestion to make the regional park tobacco-free to the County Commission.
“They listened and saw the need,” Nordfelt said. “We’re grateful for their willingness to support this important health issue.”
The ban, however, does not extend to individuals who may choose to smoke in their cars or in their RVs or trailers that would be parked on the grounds, Cox said.
Cox used the carnival that often comes to the fairgrounds as a part of the Washington County Fair as an example of a group of individuals who will bring in trailers and the like as they will be staying multiple days. If they choose to smoke inside those trailers or RVs, so be it.
“I’m not going to be Nazi police and check up on them in their cars or trailers,” Cox said.
A designated smoking area will also be established, though exactly where will be left the to discretion of the department head who oversees the regional park, Cox said.
“The idea is to get it so people aren’t blowing smoke in the faces of patrons coming out to the park,” he said, adding that as far as government is able, it should promote the public health.
Vaping is also included in the tobacco ban at the regional park.
The County Commission voted unanimously to approve the ban.
The ban is anticipated to take effect in about a month or so, Cox said. Time needs to be allowed to advertize the change prior to putting it in force.
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