The ordinance, passed unanimously, prohibits the use of all tobacco products, including, but not limited to cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Effective immediately, Northcrest, Veterans Memorial and Brookside parks are required to be 100 percent tobacco free. Parks at the islands will not be 100 percent tobacco free, but both parks have tobacco free zones that include: athletic fields, restrooms, playgrounds, concession areas, and spectator areas. Sidewalks leading to and from areas where tobacco products are prohibited are also included in the ban. Signs delineating smoke free areas will be posted soon.
Wilmington High School students representing Reality Illinois have been advocating for tobacco free parks for more than a year and played a key role in ordinance passage. Will County Health Department Executive Director John Cicero says the teens deserve credit for their diligence and advocacy.
“Wilmington’s Reality Illinois group has been researching tobacco free issues, conducting community surveys and working with the City Council on ordinance passage. They were involved every step of the way. The Health Department congratulates them, the City Council and everyone who has helped make this ordinance reality. Wilmington is now a healthier community.”
Reality Illinois is an anti-tobacco initiative for teens focusing on policy change, secondhand smoke and tobacco industry manipulation. Wilmington seniors Liz Palkoska and Cortney Eaker were present when the ordinance became law.
According to the 2014 Illinois Youth Survey, one in three Wilmington High School seniors used tobacco in the month preceding the survey. According to Wilmington Reality, the average age for a first-time user is 13.5 years. Nielsen data indicates that nearly 900 current Wilmington residents are heavy smokers.
Wilmington becomes the 20th Will County municipality with some type of smoke free or tobacco free park policy in place. The Health Department continues to dialogue with other local units of government interested in tobacco free policy development.
Reality Illinois and Will County’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program are funded through a grant provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health. For more information about Will County Tobacco Control and Prevention, telephone 815-727-8769.