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Martinsville City Council Votes for 100% Tobacco-Free Parks

Martinsville, VA. – The city of Martinsville recently decided to commit to making its parklands and park facilities 100% tobacco-free and vapor-free to provide a clean, healthy, and safe environment for all to enjoy.

The policy change was initiated by Y Street, a program of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) and Virginia’s largest youth-led movement. VFHY and 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.

On December 12, 2023, Y Street member and high school student from William Fleming High School, Cheyenne Sebastian, attended the city council meeting to explain how the city can enhance its parks and outdoor recreational areas and provide an even greater outdoor experience by going 100% tobacco-free. When asked why the campaign is important, Cheyenne replied, “I support Share The Air because kids should be able to play outside and not worry about cigarette butts and cigarette smoke in the air, and folks with asthma and other respiratory illnesses should be able to have the opportunity to be around air that doesn’t aggravate their illness.”

Martinsville strives to create dedicated spaces that allow residents to be active, relax, and gather outdoors. For this reason, city council members expressed support, voting to adopt a tobacco-free outdoor policy and pass a resolution supporting Share The Air.

The impact of the new policy is expected to reduce tobacco and vape litter and residents’ exposure to secondhand smoke, as well as promote positive role modeling for youth who visit the city’s parks and outdoor recreational areas. Martinsville joins the growing list of localities with tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free outdoor policies, becoming Share The Air’s 18th partner. Mayor LC Jones shared, “The City of Martinsville is pleased to participate in the Share the Air program. The idea of tobacco and e-cigarette-free outdoor spaces perfectly aligns with Martinsville’s focus on its Fit City Initiative. We look forward to working with our partners at Share the Air to provide all citizens, especially our students, with educational resources on the harmful effects of tobacco and e-cigarettes. We hope that our participation will encourage other cities and towns throughout Virginia to join us in helping create healthy communities that have tobacco and e-cigarette-free outdoor spaces”.

Martinsville 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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