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New Kent County Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors Votes for 100% Tobacco-Free Parks

New Kent County, VA. – New Kent County’s parks and outdoor recreational areas are officially tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free. New Kent County’s Board of Supervisors recently voted to update its park rules that will prohibit tobacco use within 50 feet of sporting events, spectators, or gatherings in outside parks.

The vote was initiated by Y Street, Virginia’s largest youth-led movement and a program of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. Y Street members strive to make sure Virginians have equitable access to clean and healthier outdoor environments through its campaign, Share The Air. Share The Air aims to create 100% tobacco-free parklands by encouraging local park and recreation departments and government officials to adopt comprehensive tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free outdoor policies.

In February, Y Street youth members met with the Parks and Recreation’s Park Director to discuss how the county can enhance its community parks and outdoor recreational areas and provide an even greater outdoor experience for its residents by going 100% tobacco-free and vapor-free which the director expressed full support for. Soon after, Y Street members presented to the Board of Supervisors at its meeting on March 13, 2023. New Kent County strives to create dedicated spaces that provide residents with a space to be active, relax, and gather outdoors and for this reason, the board passed a motion to adopt a tobacco-free outdoor policy and partner with Share The Air.

The impact of the new policy is expected to reduce tobacco and vape litter and residents’ exposure to secondhand smoke and promote positive role modeling for youth who visit the county’s parks and outdoor recreational areas. New Kent County joins the growing list of Share The Air’s partners, becoming its 10th partner, and localities with tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free outdoor policies. When asked about New Kent’s decision to partner with Share The Air, New Kent County’s Parks and Recreation Director, Kim Turner, replied, “Partnering with Share The Air to promote health equity and a healthier environment builds on our current partnerships in New Kent County and the Commonwealth. Tobacco-free spaces in New Kent County Parks fit our mission of enhancing the quality of life by promoting, providing, and maintaining public spaces for both mental and physical self-care activities.”

New Kent County will free receive tobacco-free signage as part of its partnership with Share The Air to post as a reminder to park visitors.

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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.

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