RIO GRANDE — Rio Grande Memorial Park playground was declared a smoke-free zone Thursday during a brief gathering of Gallia Health Department officials and Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter.
“The Gallia County Health Department’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program has partnered with the mayor and Village of Rio Grande to adopt and implement ‘Young Lungs at Play’ tobacco free playground policy at Rio Grande Memorial park,’” said Gallia County Health Department’s director for Tobacco Use, Prevention and Cessation McKenzie Conley. “The playground is frequently used by children and families all over Gallia County and beyond and is located near the Rio Grande Elementary School.”
Conley has previously appeared before other municipal bodies in the county in hopes of promoting tobacco smoke prevention. The goal of the Young Lungs at Play policy, according to Conley, is to keep the playground area clean and free of cigarette litter while also protecting children from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The initiative is funded by a grant utilized by the health department.
“We believe this policy will be a step in the right direction toward policy change related to tobacco use in our community and will help to provide a safe and clean environment for our children,” said Conley. “As always, the mission of the Gallia County Health Department is to promote health, prevent disease and protect the community.”
Signs will be placed around the playground of Memorial Park similarly to no trespassing signs, according to Easter.
“Part of the reason we adopted it is because it’s common sense,” said Easter. “We’re not banning smoking from the park but when we came up here and looked around there were cigarette butts around the playground equipment. I don’t think you should have to tell someone not to smoke around a little kid. We adopted a resolution. Enforcing it will probably be hard but we’re hoping these signs are enough. It’s sort of like a no trespassing sign. I’m hoping that is enough to remind people to not smoke around the kids.”
Easter specified that just the playground area of Memorial Park would be smoke free.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.