Hearing on February 11, Vote on Expanded Tobacco Ban expected on February 18
(Portland, OR) –
On Wednesday, February 11, Portland City Council will consider a measure to expand Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R)’s smoking and tobacco ban throughout the entire parks system. If Council approves the change, then all City parks, natural areas, community centers, trails, golf courses, recreation areas, and all other sites where PP&R park rules apply would be tobacco-free starting on July 1, 2015. Currently, more than 500 cities and towns nationwide have laws mandating smoke-free parks, including 64 other cities and counties in Oregon.
PP&R currently prohibits tobacco use at Director Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and the portion of the South Park Blocks that is located on Portland State University’s campus. Smoking is also prohibited within 25 feet of any play structure, picnic table or designated children’s play area.
“Expanding PP&R’s existing tobacco-free policy across the entire system sends a consistent message,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who will bring the measure to Council. “It helps to create healthy and safe environments within all of Portland Parks & Recreation – especially for children and youth. This measure aligns with PP&Rs focus of ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland’.”
Prohibited smoking and tobacco products include, but are not limited to: bidis, cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, clove cigarettes, e-cigarettes, nicotine vaporizers, nicotine liquids, hookahs, kreteks, pipes, chew, snuff, smokeless tobacco, and marijuana. The expanded policy would also apply to events held at PP&R properties, with a provision for golf tournaments to allow smoking under certain conditions.
If the measure passes, Portland Parks & Recreation would embark on educational outreach to bring awareness to the expanded policy, which would begin on July 1, 2015. Targeted stakeholders would include neighbors and neighborhood associations, all City employees, businesses and business associations, government agencies, and community and partner groups.
While any violation of a City Code is a misdemeanor which could lead to citation, at the outset of the expanded tobacco-free policy, the primary method of enforcement would be education. Patrons who refuse to comply with park rules could also be subject to a parks exclusion. Enforcement would be administered by PP&R staff and other public safety officials who have the authority to enforce park rules.
Portland Parks & Recreation Expanded Smoke & Tobacco-Free Parks Policy FAQ
These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) may also be found at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/516005
Why is Portland Parks & Recreation considering expanding its smoke and tobacco – free parks policy to all City parks, natural areas, recreation areas, and any other areas where PP&R park rules apply?
Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) currently prohibits smoking at Director Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and the portion of the South Park Blocks that is located on Portland State University’s campus. Smoking is also prohibited within 25 feet of any play structure, picnic table or designated children’s play area. Expanding the smoke-free policy to all City parks, natural areas, recreation areas and any other areas where PP&R park rules apply sends a consistent message that aligns with PP&R’s focus: “Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland.”
What are the benefits of a smoke and tobacco-free parks policy?
- Creates healthy and safe environments for Portland residents and visitors, especially children and youth.
- Protects parks and natural areas from potential risk of fires.
- Protects parks and natural areas from environmental degradation caused by littering of cigarette butts and other tobacco-related waste.
- Supports individuals who are trying to quit smoking or tobacco use or have already quit.
- Reduces exposure of children and youth to smoking and tobacco use, protecting their health and discouraging them from starting a habit that is difficult to quit.
- Contributes to cost savings: tobacco-related disease is still the leading cause of preventable death in Oregon and costs Multnomah County $223.5 million each year
- In medical care and $195.7 million in lost productivity.
When would this policy take effect?
The policy will be voted on by Portland City Council on February 18th. If City Council approves the policy, it will become effective on July 1st, 2015.
What products would be covered under the smoke and tobacco-free parks policy?
No person shall smoke or use tobacco in any form in any place in any Park. For purposes of this policy, smoking and tobacco are defined to include, but are not limited to: bidis, cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, clove cigarettes, e-cigarettes, nicotine vaporizers, nicotine liquids, hookahs, kreteks, pipes, chew, snuff, smokeless tobacco, and marijuana.
Why would e-cigarettes be prohibited?
While the jury is still out on the effects of e-cigarettes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that they may be an emerging public health issue. More research is needed to understand the health impacts of e-cigarettes, but studies have found carcinogens and toxins contained in e-cigarettes (iii).
The CDC reports a sharp rise in the number of calls to the U.S. Poison Control Center concerning children exposed to liquid nicotine (iv). Without state or federal age restrictions and flavors like gummi bear and cherry, e-cigarettes are also growing in popularity among youth (v).
Would there be designated smoking areas?
PP&R’s Director, in consultation with the Commissioner in Charge, in a manner consistent with the City’s Human Resource Administrative Rules, may establish designated smoking areas for Parks employees for whom there is no reasonably available non-parks property where smoking is allowed.
Would the policy apply to events that take place at PP&R properties?
Yes, the policy would apply to events held at PP&R properties with a provision for golf tournaments to allow smoking under certain conditions.
What will be/has been done to address cultural issues for groups such as Native Americans?
Smoking of noncommercial tobacco products for ceremonial purposes in spaces designated for traditional ceremonies in accordance with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, 42 U.S.C. 1996, as well as for similar religious ceremonial uses for other cultural groups is permitted. “Noncommercial tobacco products” means unprocessed tobacco plants or tobacco by-products used for ceremonial or spiritual purposes by Native Americans.
Is a smoke and tobacco-free parks policy a violation of civil and /or Constitutional rights?
No. This policy would not take away individuals’ rights to choose to smoke or use tobacco, it would only ask them to refrain from smoking or using tobacco while visiting City parks, natural areas, recreation areas, and any other areas where PP&R park rules apply.
How would the smoke and tobacco-free parks policy be enforced?
If Portland City Council approves the tobacco-free expansion, there will be a five-month grace period to educate the public about the policy. Starting July 1, 2015, while any violation of a City Code is a misdemeanor which could lead to citation, the primary method of enforcement would be education. Patrons who refuse to comply with the policy may also be subject to a parks exclusion. Enforcement would be administered by PP&R staff and other public safety officials who have the authority to enforce park rules.
What resources are available to help people quit smoking?
Quitting smoking and using tobacco can be hard, but there are resources available to help. Some of these resources can be found through Multnomah County and on the Oregon Health Authority (OHA)’s Get Help Quitting webpage.
Other resources not listed on the OHA webpage:
Asian Smokers Quit Line
Available Monday-Friday, 8 am to 9 pm (Pacific Time)
Voicemail and recorded messages are available 24 hours, 7 days a week
Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin): 1-800-838-8917
For military members, families, and veterans
i Oregon Health Authority. “What is Killing Oregonians? The Public Health Perspective.”
ii Oregon Health Authority. “Multnomah County Tobacco Fact Sheet 2013.”
Data derived from Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Morbidity, and Economic Costs (SAMMEC) calculator
iii U.S. Food and Drug Admin., Summary of Results: Laboratory Analysis of Electronic Cigarettes
Conducted by FDA , Public Health Focus, FDA.GOV (July 22, 2009),
iv Kevin Chatham-Stephens, MD, Royal Law, MPH, Ethel Taylor, DVM, Paul Melstrom, PhD, Rebecca Bunnell, ScD, Baoguang Wang, MD, Benjamin Apelberg, PhD, Joshua G. Schier, MD “Notes from the Field: Calls to Poison Centers for Exposures to Electronic Cigarettes – United States, September 2010-February 2014”
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Weekly April 4, 2014 / 63(13); 292-293.
v CDC. National Youth Tobacco Survey. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2013. Available at