On Thursday, a health expert spoke before the Spalding County Board of Health to inquire about the possibility of passing a model policy that would make county parks completely tobacco-free.
Beth Daniel, director of health promotion programs of District 4 Public Health, told the local Board of Health that Pike County — based on the initiative of its parks and recreation authority — recently passed a tobacco-free policy that bans any kind of tobacco from parks and recreational facilities, including designated smoking areas.
Daniel said she sent the current Spalding County ordinance on smoking designations to the state Tobacco Use Prevention Program (TUPP), which then made recommendations for changes in order for it to be considered a Model 100 Percent Tobacco Free Parks Policy.
The changes entail, in essence, replacing the word “smoking” with the word “tobacco.” That would ensure that no person would be allowed to use any form of tobacco in parks, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes and spit tobacco.
TUPP also recommended that the ordinance include enforcement strategies and opportunities for cessation for department employees and park visitors. If Spalding County adopted a Model 100 Percent Tobacco Free Parks Policy, the Georgia Department of Public Health would fund the tobacco-free signage for local parks, Daniel said.
After Daniel concluded her presentation, Board of Health Chairwoman Merrilea Reeves said that while the board can make recommendations on certain issues, it may not be able to do anything legally binding on this issue.
Bill Johnston, the attorney for the Board of Health, said he will look into the issue further.