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Healthier parks in 2019

As 2018 comes to a close, I would like to extend holiday wishes to you and your family from the Parks and Recreation Department. We appreciate your patronage throughout the year and are as hopeful as your kids are that the winter recreation opportunities that come with snow will find us soon.

Many people start off the new year with a list of planned changes, often these goals include plans for a healthier year. We have plans to make the parks healthier and cleaner in 2019 as well. All around the country, communities have been looking at ways to eliminate cigarette waste from areas where small children play and reduce their exposure to second hand smoke. We reviewed the research this year and proposed to City Council that we add some changes to our current park smoking ordinance.

Currently, the City follows the state ordinance which restricts smoking in buildings, sports arenas, large bleacher areas and places where large numbers of people gather. On December 18, City Council voted to eliminate smoke within 30 feet of aquatic centers, swimming pools, splash pads, playgrounds, exercise stations, golf course clubhouses, enclosed shelters and park restrooms. Smoking is banned at Ushers Ferry Historic Village, Northwest Recreation Center, Riverside Skate Park, and Tuma and Tait Cummins Sports Complexes, except in privately owned vehicles. We are asking the public to refrain from smoking more than 30 feet of programs where kids participate.

Why 30 feet? The research indicates that the harmful effects of second hand smoke are greatly reduced at 9 meters which is equivalent to just under 30 feet. We bumped up the 25-foot restriction created by the state to be in line with the most current research.  Just as a point of clarification, this is not a complete ban on smoking in the parks in Cedar Rapids.  Smokers will still be able to smoke in areas that fall outside of the 30 foot restrictions such as on the golf courses or in open areas of the parks.  Our goal was to keep cigarettes and the waste products associated with cigarettes away from children and we feel the 30 foot restriction around places like playgrounds is a great step in making his happen.

We are optimistic that the changes will create a park atmosphere that is clean, healthy and safe for young lungs at play. You will see signs near the areas where smoking is prohibited as a reminder to smoke at a distance from children. As always, please let us know what you think about any changes or improvements to the park system. We look forward to seeing you at park and recreation programs and facilities in 2019!

Thank you and have a Safe and Happy Holidays!

Scott Hock
Parks and Recreation Director

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