A local health advocacy group is poised to present the results of a tobacco survey to the Ottawa City Commission on Monday.
“Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our country, so it’s still something that we must take into consideration when thinking about the health of our population as a whole, and things that we can do to prevent diseases,” said Erin Laurie, Franklin County Health Department health educator and WIC nutritionist.
In keeping with their ongoing Live Healthy Franklin County initiative, the health department released a survey earlier this month in an attempt to gauge the community’s attitude toward tobacco use in the city’s 10 parks.
“We launched it Jan. 3rd and we closed it Jan. 17th,” Laurie said. “It came about because the policies for tobacco free parks were before commissioners, and they wanted to see what the feedback was from the general community.”
This survey comes on the heels of another, less-specific survey conducted by the health department in 2017.
“We previously launched a ‘perspective survey,’” Laurie explained. “And that went out to all of Franklin County. It had some tobacco-related questions in it, but of course, this issue is specific to Ottawa, so we did another survey. We really just want to get community feedback to see: is there support for totally tobacco-free parks? Is there support for designated areas for tobacco use? Those sorts of things.”
The survey posed six questions to participants:
• Do you support making all parks in Ottawa tobacco free?
• Do you support limiting tobacco use in parks to designated smoking areas?
• If participants answered no then they were asked these two questions: Do you support restricting tobacco use at playgrounds, play areas, and sport areas where youth and families gather?
• Do you support making all shelter areas tobacco free?
• Are you a resident of Ottawa?
• Do you utilize the Ottawa parks?
“We are getting the results together, and we are going to be presenting those in front of the city commissioners Jan. 29th,” Laurie said. The city commission’s regular study session is slated for 4 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St.
Laurie said the issue of tobacco-free parks affects both smokers and non-smokers alike.
“With this issue, it’s not just first-hand use, but also the second-hand smoke,” Laurie said. “Those people that are around — playing on equipment or using the shelters — that are exposed to that second hand smoke, it increases their risk for disease. Particularly for the lungs, and also other diseases as well.”