Windsor Enacts Smoke/Vape Free Policy

As of September 2020, Windsor, Vermont will have smoke/vape free town-owned parks and lands. In addition, any events sponsored by the town or held on town property will fall under the policy. The policy ban includes smoking and vaping of tobacco, nicotine products, and marijuana.

What Prompted The New Policy?

There is no safe level of secondhand smoke. In some circumstances, levels of secondhand smoke exposure outdoors can match those indoors. Secondhand smoke (even outside) can negatively impact health. Several areas in downtown Windsor demonstrate evidence of smoking that is likely impacting nonsmokers using the sidewalk, visiting businesses, or living in apartments near sites of heavy tobacco use.

Cigarette butts accumulating in Windsor’s storm drains.

In August 2017, Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership members Alice Stewart and Courtney Hillhouse conducted a visual survey of tobacco litter around Windsor. They took photos of areas with high concentrations of cigarette butt litter and presented their findings to the Windsor Rotary Club. Based on the presentation, the Wild Women of Windsor became interested in cleaning up the litter and conducted a fundraising push to purchase and install buttlers in town. In March 2019, Alice and Courtney created a town survey with questions around support for smoke/vape free town-owned parks and land. They distributed the survey at town meeting and through the Windsor town newsletter.  Of those who responded to the survey:

  • 85% supported smoke-free and vape-free town parks and lands
  • 93% supported smoke-free and vape-free town events

Courtney and Alice shared the survey results with Select Board Chair Heather Prebish and Town Manager Tom Marsh. They had discussions with Heather about her concerns regarding youth vaping, zoning options for age restricted products, and smoke/vape free town parks and lands.

Windsor Select Board Takes Action

Heather invited Alice and Courtney to the June 2019 Windsor Select Board meeting, where they provided the survey results and briefed the board on options to address community concerns. In March 2020, Courtney and Alice met with Heather for a follow-up discussion, in which Heather suggested a second select board presentation. In an April 28, 2020 select board meeting (conducted virtually because of COVID-19), Alice and Courtney presented options around smoke/vape free town-owned parks and land as well as zoning options (i.e., away from schools, daycares, libraries, etc.). for age-restricted products.

The Windsor Select Board conducted follow-up conversations based on the April 28 meeting. Town Manager Tom Marsh reached out to an attorney for advice on policy processes. The select board placed a vote on the agenda for its June 23rd meeting, during which a unanimous vote passed in favor of a policy for smoke/vape free town-owned parks and lands. The policy will go into effect September 2020.

The Windsor Select Board is pleased to have passed the recent smoke/vape-free town parks and land policy. This policy is a significant step towards promoting the health and well-being of our community members and mitigating the negative health effects associated with smoking and vaping. Windsor is a community that offers many outdoor and recreational opportunities and we want to ensure that our residents can enjoy these spaces safely, and free from potential health risks. The passing of this policy is a reflection of putting our community values into action and we’re proud that it won unanimous support. – Heather Prebish, Select Board Chair

Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership Sets Sights on More Policy Change To Protect Residents’ Health

Municipalities have a role to play in promoting factors that protect healthy choices and mitigate factors that encourage risk or unhealthy choices. In addition to their policy work on smoke/vape free town-owned parks and lands, Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership members will leverage their relationship with the Windsor Select Board to continue policy work on retail bans and buffer zones (around schools, day care centers, libraries, and churches) to prevent children from being exposed to businesses that focus on selling age-restricted products, including tobacco, alcohol, and pornography. These policies will promote health by limiting exposure to second-hand smoke and vapor, reducing youth access, and creating cultures that promote health as a norm.

Submitted by Elizabeth Kelsey, Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership

PHC Expands Advocacy Capacity Through Online Resources

In the months following the advocacy training held in March, the Public Health Council worked to build out two online advocacy initiatives: a newsletter and a directory of public policy-related organizations. The organizations highlighted are involved in policy work on the priority health issues for the Upper Valley and operate in either Vermont, New Hampshire, or on the national level. The two resources serve as more informal, on-demand resources for our members and community members. Coupled with advocacy trainings and legislative events we have held over the past year, these two additional forms of outreach help expand the Public Health Council’s capacity to support advocacy. We hope we are now better positioned to reach legislators, public health stakeholders and community members, and better facilitate collaboration on public health policy among them all for the years to come.

Directory of Upper Valley Organizations Dedicated to Public Health Advocacy

To leverage the work and commitment of organizations who are both committed to legislative public health advocacy and are aligned with our priority areas, we created a directory accessible via our website. On the table display, each organization is characterized by which of our priority areas they align with. We have linked to their respective public policy agendas and encourage regional partners and community members to connect with these organizations on policy issues of interest to them.

You can view this resource, as well as other information on our advocacy initiatives here.

Advocacy Newsletter

As a more regular form of outreach to our local legislators, the Public Health Council developed an e-newsletter to clearly communicate our policy goals and interests. We intend to send this out three times a year, mainly to highlight how public policy initiatives affect work in our communities, and to highlight recent advocacy initiatives in the community.

You can view our first newsletter here, or subscribe via the link to our news page, attached here.

Written by Claire Thomas, Dartmouth College Student and Class of ’82 Upper Valley Community Impact Fellow

Governor Phil Scott Announces the State of Vermont is Distributing 300,000 Free Cloth Face Coverings

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced that the State of Vermont will distribute up to 300,000 cloth face coverings to the public, emergency responders and select agencies throughout the month of August. The State Emergency Operations Center procured the masks from those donated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Face Coverings Mandatory in All Public Places

As of August 1, face coverings are mandatory in all public places in Vermont(link is external). While wearing a mask is not a substitute for physical distancing and other mitigation measures, public health experts advise that masks help limit the spread of COVID-19 and should be worn in public when physical distancing is not possible.

“We’ve made considerable gains in our effort to limit the spread of this virus and it’s critical that we protect this progress by following all public health guidelines, including wearing a mask,” said Governor Phil Scott. “I’m so proud of Vermonters for stepping up to keep their families, friends and neighbors safe, and I’m thankful to our federal, state and local partners who are helping to get these free masks to communities across the state.”

Vermont Emergency Management, the Health Department, the Agency of Transportation and the Vermont National Guard are facilitating the distribution effort. 200,000 masks have already gone out or will soon go out to towns, school nurses, community action agencies, the Vermont Department of Health Equity Team and district offices, emergency response agencies, the Vermont National Guard and food distribution sites.

Masks Available by Contacting Towns

Vermonters may access these free face coverings through their towns. Municipalities are responsible for distributing the masks and many are working with their emergency services departments (i.e. fire and police) to aid in that effort.

To obtain a face mask, please visit is external) to find your local contact. If your town is not listed, then your local officials may have not requested their allotment or provided contact information.

For more information on:

Reprinted Press Release issued on August 13, 2020

PHC Partners in Statewide Initiative to Keep New Hampshire Healthy

#MaskUpNewHampshire Initiative Focuses on Reducing the Community Transmission of COVID-19

As part of a collaborative effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 across the state and keep our Upper Valley healthy, the Public Health Council is partnering with business and organizations statewide on a grassroots movement to encourage the use of face masks in public and work settings. The initiative, #MaskUpNewHampshire, aims to strengthen efforts led by the Common Man family and the Rotary Clubs of New Hampshire. These organizations are helping to raise awareness around the importance of wearing masks, and how doing so along with other measures like handwashing, practicing social distancing and staying home when we are sick, can reduce the community transmission of COVID-19.

While there is still much to learn about COVID-19 and its transmission, what is known is that wearing a mask is one of the most simple and effective things that can keep the virus from spreading.  It’s also a visible way to demonstrate concern and protection for others and an important way that everyone can help.

Keeping our Communities Thriving, Healthy, and Safe

“Public health professionals and Rotarians agree that keeping our communities thriving, healthy, and safe are goals where everyone can play a part. Wearing masks when you can’t physical distance is a simple and effective way to be of service to those around you. It protects them from unintended exposure to COVID-19. One of Rotary’s core principles is to always ask whether an action will be beneficial to all concerned. Seems to me when it comes to wearing a mask the answer is YES!,” says Rudy Fedrizzi, MD, Board Chair for the Public Health Council and member of the Rotary Club of Lebanon, NH.

In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, state and public health officials recommend cloth face coverings whenever in public in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. According to a recent study from global investment firm Goldman Sachs, mask-wearing by every American could save the U.S. economy from a 5% drop in GDP, or approximately $1 trillion in reduced economic spending.

This grassroots initiative aims to remind both residents and visitors that wearing a mask can make a significant difference in helping to reduce risk of exposure and stop the spread of COVID-19. By wearing a mask regularly when out in public or at work, both New Hampshire residents and visitors can help slow the spread and keep the Upper Valley healthy, safe and open.

For more information or to participate in the statewide initiative to keep New Hampshire healthy, please visit or contact Alice Ely at

Upper Valley MRC Supports COVID-19 Testing

Volunteer Brett Mayfield dons his PPE to begin a clinic shift, while providers at the specimen collection station look on.

Since May, the Vermont Department of Health has sponsored weekly COVID-19 testing clinics for the asymptomatic public. Residents and visitors regularly register for these clinics for many reasons. People want to visit loved ones who are high risk, reduce their quarantine period, attend a summer camp, or protect themselves while working at a high-risk business. The reasons are as varied as the people who come, but the results are the same. Upper Valley folks from both Vermont and New Hampshire are flocking to get quality testing in their community.

Volunteer Eileen Murphy mans the triage tent to screen and check in registrants.

Upper Valley MRC Supports COVID-19 Testing

Three Upper Valley Medical Reserve Corps volunteers have stepped up to supplement the healthcare workforce staffing these weekly Covid-19 testing clinics. Eileen Murphy is a local nurse practitioner. Brett Mayfield is a town health officer and owner of a local healthcare practice. Andrea Morancy is a school nurse.  All three regularly take shifts at the Springfield or White River Junction COVID-19 sites. Their tasks are as varied as triaging and symptom checking incoming patients, communicating critical healthcare information, verifying registration information, or conducting testing. These skilled providers fill critical roles that aid the Health Department and local EMS personnel who regularly run the clinics. They also fulfill the MRC mission of being the second line of defense when local capacity is stretched.

Attendees of local clinics constantly provide feedback on the professionalism, friendliness and gentleness of the team. The Upper Valley has garnered a reputation for being ‘the place’ to go for testing. “It’s all about setting expectations and meeting them,” says Eileen Murphy, who often works the Triage station. “It’s so rewarding to have someone full of anxiety come through the line, receive information and reassurance, and just see the stress leave their face. Then to get a thumbs up when they exit the testing area and to hear confirmation that although there is discomfort, it was not as bad as expected.”

Covid-19 Testing Clinics Continue Through August

Covid-19 testing clinics will continue in Vermont through the end of August (2020). For more information on locations and how to register, visit To volunteer with Upper Valley MRC, reach out to us at