All Adams County village and township parks are now tobacco-free

In the past two years, Village Councils and Township Trustees throughout Adams County have adopted tobacco-free policies for their community parks. According to Sherry Stout, the Adams County Medical Foundation Director and Chairman of the Adams County Tobacco Task Force, the new policies/ordinances support the belief that tobacco use and secondhand smoke in park areas where families and children play, is detrimental to the health of everyone using the parks.
In 2016, the Adams County Medical Foundation received a grant from Interact for Health to plan and implement tobacco-free areas in their community. Partnering with local business and healthcare professionals, the Adams County Tobacco Task Force was developed to focus on strategies to create healthier, tobacco-free environments for our youth and local citizens. According to Debbie Ryan, Adams County Creating Healthy Communities Program Coordinator, tobacco-related diseases remain the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. And further, we know that being a nonsmoker does not make a person immune to problems caused by smoking because secondhand smoke causes many negative health issues, including heart disease, lung disease and SIDS.
“Our goal is to demonstrate to our youth that tobacco use is not a part of a healthy lifestyle,” Stout said. “We believe that these policies can play a part in reducing youth tobacco use in our community, which will eventually save lives.” She added that parents, officials and other community leaders can serve as positive role models for youth by choosing to live tobacco-free.
Leeann Puckett, Adams County Health & Wellness Coalition Chairman, said she is thrilled to see Adams County Villages joining the ranks of communities and park systems that are formalizing their commitment to healthy, tobacco-free living for residents.
Joining village and township parks in Manchester, Seaman, Peebles, Locust Grove, and Winchester that have adopted tobacco-free policies are the parks in Monroe Township (Wrightsville) and Meigs Township (Jacktown).
“By adopting these policies and ordinances, Adams County is affirming that tobacco use and secondhand smoke do not belong in park areas, where people go to improve their fitness and enjoy the outdoors,” Puckett said. She noted that these park policies and the recently-adopted Adams County/Ohio Valley Schools and Manchester Local Schools tobacco-free school policies contribute to a healthier, tobacco-free environment throughout the community.
The Adams County Tobacco Task Force initiated a logo contest in the local high schools and developed a Teen Board, made up of students from West Union, North Adams and Peebles High Schools, who were all interested in promoting tobacco-free environments and public spaces. Their assistance, through presentations made throughout the County to promote tobacco-free spaces, along with the programs they held in the schools, were a contributing factor to the success of this program. Their passion for the creation of tobacco-free environments was very admirable and was a contributing factor to the success of this grants efforts.
Adams County Regional Medical Center joined the efforts by offering tobacco cessation classes to anyone in Adams County, provided by a cessation specialist/registered nurse.
While the grant to implement tobacco-free public spaces has ended, Stout added that the Adams County Medical Foundation will continue looking for ways to help communities and organizations work to reduce tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure.
As Adams County Tobacco Task Force member, Holly Johnson, also the Adams County Economic & Community Development Director, said, relative to Village Councils and Township Trustees so eager to adopt these important tobacco-free policies and resolutions, “When it comes to our kids and our health, people typically want to do the right thing.”