Numerous county health departments have gotten grant money from the State of Illinois to promote healthy initiatives.
Whiteside, Lee, Ogle, Carroll, and Stephenson counties will share $210,000. Whiteside County is going to focus on smoke-free parks.
Whiteside County Public Health Administrator, Beth Fiorini, said non-smokers have the right to clean air at city parks.
“We all have kids, grandkids. Let’s get the smokers out of the park, let’s get the cigarette butts that are laying all over,” Fiorini said. “And anytime someone doesn’t smoke a cigarette it’s going to make them healthier.”
But some people that spend a lot of time at public parks don’t necessarily agree that smoking should be banned.
“I do think that’s encroaching on rights a little bit,” said mother and non-smoker, Brandy Hodges. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that they would do that in an open place where people should be able to relax and enjoy themselves.”
“Some smoke and some don’t. I’m not sure we should be telling people that they can’t do that,” said Coloma Township Parks and Recreation Director, Michael Sterba.
Sterba said he already implements plenty of rules —
“We ask people not to smoke at any baseball diamonds or any playground areas or where the kids are at,” said Sterba. “We ask them to go out to the parking lots if they’re going to smoke.”
He also said it would be difficult to enforce a ban at all 17 of his parks.
“We don’t have the staff to do that of course, and we are not police officers.”
The new initiative will take place over the next four years. Besides promoting smoke-free outdoor spaces, the grant pays to advocate breast-feeding and workplace wellness.