A small park district in unincorporated Lake County near Gurnee has become completely tobacco- and smoke-free.
Grandwood Park Park District's policy, enacted through a board vote Jan. 11, applies to all property and vehicles. The decision came in the wake of a presentation by teenagers in the Lake County chapter of REALITY Illinois, a tobacco-prevention group.
Park board Vice President Nancy Carlson said Wednesday the policy was the proper move, considering a vast majority of residents there don't use tobacco products.
Round Lake Area Park District has a ban on using any tobacco products or smoking at all properties except its golf course, according to the Lake County Health Department. Buffalo Grove, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Lindenhurst, Hawthorn Woods and Vernon Hills are among the communities where smoking in parks is prohibited.
However, Grandwood Park went beyond the others by making work vehicles used by employees a tobacco- and smoke-free zone.
"It sets an example," Carlson said. "I see it as a leadership example."
Last November, the teens in REALITY Illinois appeared at a Grandwood Park park board meeting and made a pitch about the benefits of not allowing tobacco or smoking. They presented survey data they collected from more than 1,200 Lake County residents and 150 in Grandwood Park's ZIP code that showed 84 percent supported the bans.
"We are excited that the park district decided to go tobacco-free and smoke-free, because these are two different things," said REALITY Illinois member Anna Heinrich, 17, of Gurnee. "It makes sense to do this because tobacco-free policies include chewing tobacco and related litter, which harm the environment, damage the health of smokers and nonsmokers, and set a bad example for the community."