Powhatan County, VA. – Powhatan County Parks and Recreation decided to recommit to establishing its parklands as tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free by reinforcing its existing parks rules that prohibit tobacco use within their properties. The commitment 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 a member of the Board of Supervisors and the Deputy County Administrator to discuss how the county can enhance its community parks and outdoor recreational areas by strengthening its existing tobacco-free policy and partnering with Share The Air, which both expressed full support for. Soon after, Y Street members presented to the Commission on January 10, 2023. When asked why the campaign is important to them, Y Street member and student from Powhatan High School, Bre Gillespie, replied, “The Share The Air campaign is important to me because my family and I love to be outside. When the air is clean from tobacco and e-cigarette smoke we can have fun to the fullest. Through the Share The Air campaign it will make the outdoors better for more people.” Y Street’s presentation resonated with the Commission. As a county that strives to create dedicated spaces that provide residents with a space to be active, relax, and gather outdoors, in March, the department recommitted to going tobacco-free by signing a commitment form solidifying its partnership with the campaign.
Powhatan County joins the growing list of Share The Air’s partners, becoming its 12th partner, and localities with tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free outdoor policies. “We are thrilled to partner with Share The Air to further enrich and preserve the quality of life for all who reside in Powhatan County. We pride ourselves on making Powhatan a fun place to live, work and play. This partnership will also enhance our ability to have visitors view Powhatan as an excellent place to play,” Megan Heatwole, the Director of Parks and Recreation shared. Powhatan County will receive free 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.