MORRIS – The Grundy County Health Department is asking residents their opinion on tobacco use in Morris parks as the department moves forward with tobacco-free initiatives.
“The Tobacco-Free Illinois Grant the Grundy County Health Department received requires us to look at initiatives like tobacco-free parks,” said Paula Goodwin of the No Tolerance Task Force. “We are doing the survey first to get data to see if people are interested.”
The survey, which is being hosted online at SurveyMonkey, also is available in a paper format at the Morris Area Public Library and consists of eight questions and one comment section asking people their thoughts on keeping tobacco products out of city parks.
Goodwin said a lot of parks in the northeastern Illinois region have already moved forward with tobacco-free initiatives and there are ordinances in place in some parts of the region that make it illegal to have tobacco products, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaporizers in a park.
“Lake County is one of the first counties to go tobacco-free in their parks,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin has been working side-by-side with Laura Wells at the health department to determine what steps to take next.
“We are taking baby steps and we have to be careful how we move forward,” Goodwin said.
Wells, who checks on food service in the county to make sure codes are being followed, said keeping tobacco completely out of the parks may be hard to enforce. She said that when she is checking food booths at events such as the Corn Festival, she tries to “inform vendors that there can’t be smoking within 15 feet of food preparation areas even outside. That is hard to enforce, but we try to nip it in the bud when we see it.”
She feels the same challenges may be faced at local parks.
Goodwin said what they’d like to see initially is no-smoking areas near stands or athletic fields, playground equipment and other areas frequented by children.
It already is illegal to smoke on school grounds in Illinois, and Goodwin said people have been complaining of smoking at school events.
The grant will provide money needed to post signs in areas determined to be tobacco free if the community shows enough interest, and could help provide places to dispose of cigarettes when they are extinguished.
As of Tuesday, the group had about 100 responses to the survey but they’d like to have at least 1,000 to have a clearer idea of the interests of residents.
To take the survey visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/GH2NFVL