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.
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