Prince George County, VA (April 5, 2022) – The Hopewell Recreation and Parks Department made the decision to update its parks rules prohibiting tobacco- and e-cigarette-use in all of its outdoor recreational areas, effective March 30, 2022. The department has a longstanding rule that prohibits tobacco use in the general vicinity of playgrounds, athletic fields, restroom/concession buildings, and trails. However, following a meeting with Hopewell High School students and Y Street leaders, Phylisha Taylor and Anita Hall, and hearing their testimony on why adopting a comprehensive policy is important and beneficial for everyone, the department signed a commitment form to expand their existing rule so all parklands will be smoke-free, vapor-free, and tobacco-free.
Y Street is the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s (VFHY) statewide volunteer initiative for high school students. Y Street members like Phylisha and Anita strive to make sure Virginians have equitable access to clean and healthy spaces and do this by promoting the Share The Air campaign. Share The Air aims to create 100% tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free parklands by urging parks and recreation directors and other local government officials to adopt tobacco-free outdoor policies.
Research has demonstrated that a strong majority of Virginians (89%) agree that parklands should be tobacco-free and vapor-free. Additionally, Virginians (88%) feel strongly that secondhand smoke is a dangerous hazard outdoors, and that tobacco and e-cigarette products cause damage to the environment (91%).
With Hopewell partnering with the Share The Air campaign and joining other park leaders in promoting clean outdoor air, more Virginians now have healthier outdoor spaces where they can gather and be active. VFHY Executive Director Marty Kilgore thanks Y Street members like Phylisha and Anita for their continued advocacy and commends Hopewell for their commitment. “VFHY is proud to see youth advocacy like Phylisha and Anita’s lead to healthier communities. This decision by the Hopewell Recreation and Parks Department is a testament to their dedication to provide safe parklands and public spaces for all visitors.”
About the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY)
Established in 1999 by the Virginia General Assembly, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth empowers Virginia’s youth to make healthy choices by reducing and preventing youth tobacco and nicotine use, substance use, and childhood obesity.
VFHY takes a comprehensive approach to prevention work that includes reaching about 50,000 children each year through classroom-based prevention programs in public schools, after-school programs, community centers, day cares and prevention programs across the state. VFHY’s award-winning marketing campaigns deliver prevention messaging to more than 500,000 children annually. In addition, VFHY’s research program provides scientific insight on methods to effectively reduce tobacco use. Since 2002, VFHY has funded 40 large research projects at universities throughout Virginia. For more information, visit www.vfhy.org.