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Lexington City Council Votes for 100% Tobacco-Free Parks

Lexington, VA. – Lexington’s parks and outdoor recreational areas are officially tobacco-free. The City of Lexington recently decided to promote voluntary compliance to prohibit tobacco and electronic smoking device use on all parklands, park facilities, open public spaces, and all enclosed and designated areas, including common areas, playgrounds, and shelters.

The policy change 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 ensure 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 May, Y Street youth members from Rockbridge County High School met with the Lexington City Council to discuss how the city can enhance its community parks and outdoor recreational areas and provide an even greater outdoor experience by going 100% tobacco-free and vapor-free. When asked why the campaign is important, Y Street member Jackson Speers replied, “Everyone deserves to enjoy their time outside, whether you’re sitting in a park, walking along a trail, or anything else. Nobody wants to be outside breathing in secondhand smoke. The Share The Air campaign is special because it promotes a cleaner environmental change in its message. It is important that people of all ages can have peace of mind enjoying the outdoors.” The City of Lexington strives to create dedicated spaces that allow residents to be active, relax, and gather outdoors. For this reason, the mayor and city council members expressed full support, voting unanimously 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. The City of Lexington joins the growing list of localities with tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free outdoor policies, becoming Share The Air’s 15th partner. Lexington’s City Manager, Jim Halasz, shared, “The Lexington City Council has always been supportive of activities that encourage a healthy lifestyle. The Share The Air program is a natural fit for the Lexington community and to keep all residents on the path to healthier lives.”

The City of Lexington will receive free 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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