Parks consider smoke-free initiative

GREENFIELD — Parks within the city of Greenfield might be smoke-free in the future.

Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department superintendent Ellen Kuker began researching the possibility of a ban about two months ago, reaching out to the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association to find out whether other parks departments have chosen to make their parks no-smoking zones. Smoking is currently allowed in parks, though it is prohibited in businesses and within 25 feet of the door of Greenfield businesses.

The effort comes at the behest of Hancock Regional Hospital, whose Hancock Regional Hospital tobacco initiatives coordinator, Brandee Bastin, reached out to the parks department to find out whether the parks board has the ability to make its public areas smoke-free, Kuker said.

“We are encouraged (the hospital) wants us to be a leader in this movement,” Kuker said.

Bastin has been contacted repeatedly by families in Greenfield who believe that youth athletics, parks and clouds of cigarette smoke shouldn’t mix, she said. While youth sports in the Mt. Vernon and Southern Hancock school districts are conducted on school campuses — no smoking zones — several Greenfield youth sports are conducted or have matches at public parks, where smoking isn’t currently banned.

“Parents and families have raised concerns,” she said. “Whatever next steps the parks department and the city are taking, we’ll be happy to work with them.”

Kuker connected with other parks superintendents across the state but discovered there’s no one trend for smoking regulations in parks, she said. Kuker also has reached out to city attorney Tom Billings to learn whether the current city ordinance will permit the parks department to make part of all of its parks smoke-free.

If the parks department does have the authority to make its parks no smoking zones, the change will be announced with signs, Kuker said. In addition, the city and parks websites and social media would announce the policy change.

Parks board member Kathy Dowling said the move to smoke-free parks would go along with the goals of the Healthy 365 movement, a city-wide movement led by Hancock Regional Hospital that aims to promote physical activity and healthy living.

Healthy 365 has touted the county’s smoking ordinances as a benefit of living here, as the ordinances currently exceed Indiana’s current smoking laws, which prohibit smoking in workplaces and some public areas, but omit bars and taverns, casinos and off-track betting facilities, cigar bars, hookah bars, tobacco retail shops, private clubs whose members vote to allow smoking and home-based businesses whose only employees are family members. However, Bastin said she believes the city has more work to do, especially when it comes to protecting young athletes and their families from second-hand smoke.

Parks board president Rick Roberts said the possibility of making Greenfield parks no-smoking zones has never been discussed at the board level, but he would wholeheartedly support the initiative.

“We should be the leader,” he said. “We should be setting the example in the community.”

Indiana's smoking laws

Indiana’s state-wide smoke-free air law went into effect July, 1, 2012, and prohibits smoking in most public places and places of employment.

Under House Act 1149, smoking is permitted in the following establishments: a horse-racing facility, a riverboat, a facility with a gambling game license, a satellite-gaming facility, cigar bars, hookah bars, certain fraternal clubs, a retail-tobacco store, a bar or tavern meeting certain requirements, a cigar-manufacturing facility, a cigar-specialty store or a business in a private residence.

Cities and counties are permitted to enact ordinances more restrictive than the state law.

Source: Indiana State Department of Health/ Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or