York County, VA. – York County has taken a step towards promoting a healthier outdoor environment by implementing a new tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free policy for the McReynolds Athletic Complex in Yorktown, VA. The facility boasts 13 athletic fields, 2 playgrounds, and a multi-purpose path perfect for walking and jogging to name a few, an ideal location to begin enhancing residents’ outdoor experiences.
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.
In November 2023, Y Street members, Morgan Morris and Alisha Mask, from Tabb High School met with the Director of Community Services, Sheri Newcomb, to explain how the county can provide an even greater outdoor experience for its residents by going 100% tobacco-free. When asked why the campaign is important, Morgan stated, “As someone who suffers from asthma, I would like to enjoy my time in outdoor recreational areas without fear of a sudden asthma attack or having to use my inhaler due to secondhand smoking.”
York County strives to create dedicated spaces that allow residents to be active, relax, and gather outdoors. For this reason, the Director of Community Services signed a commitment form to adopt a voluntary 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, as well as promote positive role modeling for youth who visit McReynolds Athletic Complex. York County joins the growing list of localities with tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free outdoor policies, becoming Share The Air’s 19th partner. Director of Community Services, Sheri Newcomb, shared, Whether you are hitting a homerun, scoring a goal, or exercising on the fitness trail at the McReynolds Athletic Complex, residents can now enjoy the fresh air by avoiding smoking and vaping at the sports complex.”
This is just the beginning, as the county hopes to extend this policy to all its parklands in the near future. York County received free tobacco-free signage as part of its partnership with Share The Air to post as a reminder to 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.