MACOMB (WGEM) – Macomb health officials said there have been several complaints of people smoking in local parks. Now the McDonough County Health Department and the Macomb Park District are conducting an investigation to decide whether the parks should be smoke-free.
MCHD public information officer Niki Duffy said so far they have received more than 50 results from people with the majority leaning toward smoke-free parks.
“Some of the things we’ve heard anecdotally and comments in the survey as well is that when people are outside and they’re spending time with their families and they’re spending time with their children, they don’t want it interrupted. with someone who smokes,” Duffy said. “They’re really looking for that wholesome outdoor experience and that doesn’t necessarily mix with the tobacco used in those facilities.”
She also said passive smoking was a big concern for non-smokers.
“If you’re in a public space and you smoke, you can’t choose that yourself,” Duffy said. “Someone chooses for you.”
Macomb resident and Western Illinois University student Adam Gentry was at the park Sunday afternoon with a group of his friends. He said the possibility of a smoking ban in Macomb parks could worry local residents.
“It definitely helps those who are concerned about smoking enjoy the park a bit more,” Gentry said. “Enjoy that fresh air. (However) some people who I guess choose to smoke, maybe they depend on those outdoor spaces, maybe they can’t smoke in homes or businesses. And also , I see there is a lot of garbage involved in smoking like cigarette butts on the floor.
Duffy said if parks become smoke-free and people struggle with nicotine addiction, local resources are available.
“There’s the Illinois Quit Smoking Helpline, we have information on our website, and the CDC has great tobacco-free resources,” Duffy said.
Duffy said once the results of the survey are available, MCHD and MPD will work on a solution that best meets residents’ needs going forward.
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