Hanover County, VA. – Hanover County’s parks and outdoor recreational areas are officially tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission recently made the decision to prohibit tobacco use at all playgrounds, trails, ballfields, and active use areas. The new policy is the first of its kind for Hanover County as they previously did not have an existing policy on the use of tobacco products in outdoor spaces.
The decision 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.
Last fall, Y Street 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. In the months following, Y Street members presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission at its meeting on March 27, 2023. Hanover 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 signed a commitment form 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. Hanover County joins the growing list of Share The Air’s partners, becoming its 13th partner, and localities with tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free outdoor policies. When asked about Hanover’s decision to partner with Share
The Air, Hanover County’s Parks and Recreation Director, Aaron Reidmiller, replied, “Hanover County Parks and Recreation is dedicated to providing healthy spaces that allow our community to enjoy a variety of recreational pursuits. Through our participation in the Share The Air program, we have established a new policy prohibiting the use of tobacco products in and around our most heavily used park amenities. This new policy will improve the overall visitor experience, promote healthy lifestyle choices, and decrease litter in our parks.”
Hanover County will free receive tobacco-free signage as part of its partnership with Share The Air to post as a reminder to park 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.