Gurnee Park District officials are considering a proposal to ban smoking or all tobacco products from outdoor properties.
Board members plan to discuss the issue at a meeting that starts at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the district's headquarters building at Viking Park, 4374 Old Grand Ave. A final vote on whether the parks should be smoke- or tobacco-free is expected next month.
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More and more suburban park districts are taking a position against tobacco use on ball fields, playgrounds or other outdoor properties. In January, a small park district in unincorporated Lake County near Gurnee become completely tobacco- and smoke-free. Grandwood Park Park District's policy applies to all property and vehicles. Officials said Grandwood Park's policy was the proper move, considering a survey showed a vast majority of residents there don't use tobacco products.
In April 2011, the Gurnee Park District was approached about going smoke-free by about 20 teenagers representing REALITY Illinois, a tobacco-prevention group.
Gurnee Park District Executive Director Susie Kuruvilla said her preference is that smoking -- not all tobacco products -- be banned from playgrounds, athletic fields and outdoor special events. Park board members will make the final decision.
"It's easier to spot (smoking) and take care of it," Kuruvilla said Monday.
Kuruvilla said Gurnee won't go as far as Grandwood Park by making work vehicles used by employees a tobacco- and smoke-free zone.
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. Teens in REALITY Illinois have cited various benefits to officials when they've made the push for smoke- and tobacco-free policies. They've voiced concern about environmental harm from related litter and the damage to the health of smokers and nonsmokers.