Tobacco Free Outdoors

Reasons for Creating TOBACCO Free Outdoor Areas

Many parks, businesses, and organizations have implemented tobacco free policies for their grounds. Most have included all forms of electronic cigarettes in the policies. Tobacco free outdoor areas protect individuals from secondhand smoke and promote healthy environments.

Secondhand Smoke is Dangerous

  • In 1993 the Environmental Protection Agency classified secondhand smoke as a Class A carcinogen, placing it in the same category as radon, benzene, and asbestos. Among those substances, only secondhand smoke was shown to cause cancer at typical environmental levels.[1]
  • The US Surgeon General has declared that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.2
  • Secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals; at least 70 are known cancer causing agents.3
  • Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke.
  • High levels of secondhand smoke have been measured by various studies in outdoor areas.4 Byproducts of nicotine and tobacco, which are associated with lung cancer risk, can be detected in non-smokers exposed to cigarette smoke in outdoor areas.5

Cigarette Butts are Hazardous

  • Discarded cigarettes pollute waterways, killing fish and other organisms, via runoff and drainage leading to rivers and oceans. 6
  • Cigarette butts, if ingested, may present health risks to human infants and animals leading to vomiting, loss of bodily control, abnormal heartbeat and, in extreme cases, death. 7

Children Model Adult Behaviors

  • Prohibiting tobacco use in outdoor places frequented by the public reduces the perception by young children that tobacco use is a common, acceptable, and desirable adult behavior. 8
  •  90% of adult smokers began smoking before age 18. 9

Tobacco Free Outdoor Policies Support Smoker’s Cessation Efforts

  • Fifty-four percent (54%) of smokers who had tried to quit found that seeing someone with a cigarette was a trigger to relapse.10
  • Increasing evidence suggests smoke free policies lower smoking rates among youth and young adults and help persuade smokers to quit. 11

Electronic Cigarettes Should be Included in Tobacco Free Policies

  • Electronic cigarettes emit an aerosol containing heavy metals, ultrafine particles, nicotine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and cancer-causing chemicals.  12
  • The World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) recommend that electronic cigarettes not be used in smoke free environments, to minimize the risk to bystanders of breathing in the aerosol emitted by the devices and to avoid undermining the enforcement of smoke free laws. 13


[1]US Environmental Protection Agency.  “The Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders” EPA/600/6-90/006F; December 1992;

2US Department of Health and Human Services.  The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General.  Rockville MD: 2006.

3American Cancer Society (2015). Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke. [Webpage]. Retrieved from

4 Sureda, Xisca, et al. (2013). “Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure in open and semi-open settings: A systematic review”.

Environmental Health Perspectives, 121(7). P. 766-773. Retrieved from

5 St. Helen, G. et al. (2012). “Exposure to secondhand smoke outside of a bar and a restaurant and tobacco exposure biomarkers in nonsmokers. Environmental Health Perspectives, 120. P. 1010-1016. Retrieved from

6 Novotny TE, Lum K, Smith E, Wang V, Barnes R. Cigarettes butts and the case for an environmental policy on hazardous cigarette waste. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009;6:1691-1705

7Novotny, T. E.; Hardin, S. N.; Hovda, L. R.; Novotny, D. J.; McLean, M. & Khan, S. (2011). Tobacco and cigarette butt consumption in humans and animals. Tobacco Control, 20. P. i.17-i.20.

 8Association for Nonsmokers – Minn. (2010). “Playing Tobacco Free: Making Your Communities Outdoor Recreation Facilities Tobacco Free”.                                                                                                                       

9 US Department of Health & Human Services (2016). Trends in adolescent tobacco use. [Webpage]. Retrieved from

10 Centre for Health Research and Psycho-oncology (2007). Tracking NSW community attitudes and practices in relation to tobacco: A biennial telephone survey. Unpublished report by The Cancer Council NSW.

11 Shu-Hong, Z.; Lee, M.; Yue-Lin, Z.; Gamst, A. & Wolfson, T. (2011). Interventions to increase smoking cessation at the population level: how much progress has been made in the last two decades? Tobacco Control, 21. P. 110-118. Retrieved from

12 CDC infographic

13 World Health Organization (WHO), "Electronic nicotine delivery systems," World Health Organization (WHO), 2014.



Tobacco Free/Smoke Free Outdoors Areas


Smoke Free Entryway Policies

Lincoln Court Apartments Lisle Free Library

Tobacco Free Parks, Playgrounds and Athletics Area Policy

All parks in City of Binghamton are tobacco free.

All playgrounds, athletic and spectator ares in Broome County are tobacco free.

Town of Conklin 

All parks in Town of Conklin are tobacco free.

Town of Maine

All parks in Town of Maine are tobacco free.

Town of Union 

All parks, playgrounds, concession, pool, athletic, spectator and carousel areas in Town of Union are tobacco free.


Village of Johnson City

All parks in Village of Johnson City are tobacco free.

Village of Nichols

All parks in the Village of Nichols are tobacco free.

Town of Tioga

All playgrounds and athletic fields in the Town of Tioga are tobacco free.

To learn more about smoke free policies or about how you can implement a smoke free policy where you work, play, or pray, contact Tobacco Free Broome at 607.778.3068 and Tobacco Free Tioga at 607.687.4020, Community Partners of the New York State Tobacco Control Program.

1- Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition. (2011). Tobacco-free outdoor areas. Retrieved from

2- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.

3- Shwartz, M. (2007, May). Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in outdoor settings a risk, study shows. Retrieved from

4- Allentown Recycles. (2002). Litter facts. Retrieved from

5- Erie Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition, . (n.d.). Smoke free parks and playgrounds. Retrieved from

6- New York State Department of Health Advertising, Sponsorship and Promotion Toolkit

If you want to quit and need support call the
New York State Smokers Quitline:


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