Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE
Signs to be posted for designated smoke-free areas
Yolo County declared on Jan. 1 that county-owned properties throughout the county will be smoke free, following approval by the Board of Supervisors in Aug. of 2017. These properties will include “outdoor areas of the property, such as walkways and parking lots.”
The new policy prohibits “smoking any product on property owned or leased by the county, including cigarettes, little cigars, marijuana and all electronic smoking devices.” Steven Jensen, the health program manager for the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency, stated that the move to a smoke free county was right.
“Ultimately, the goal was to reduce the amount of second-hand smoke that both employees of Yolo County and clients are exposed to,” Jensen said. “[For] employees, the policy [enforcement] is the responsibility of the employees’ direct supervisor first. There are other policies in place where there can be negotiations and talk[s]. For clients to come, the enforcement is basically self-enforcement. The manager, department head or whatever department works in the building can ask the client of customer to stop smoking.”
Yolo County ensured that the rules would be made clear and areas would be clearly designated.
“There will be signs posted on all the buildings that clearly designate which areas are smoke free or that the property is smoke free and cite the ordinance numbers so people can access it to see what the legislation is,” Jensen said.
The current rule states that smokers can only smoke 20 feet away from the entrance of a county building or they must move to a designated smoking area. However, employees, clients and visitors were being impacted by the second-hand smoke under this old rule. This prompted the Yolo County Tobacco Prevention Program to research smoke-free policies in other counties and eventually adopt them in order to “protect people from breathing in unwanted smoke.”
Yolo County has been working toward an easy and informative transition for residents.
“Most likely, there will be questions and confusion about this,” Jensen said. “Before passing this policy, we have been advertising. The policy was adopted a year and a half ago. It was adopted with the language that it would be implemented now. We’ve had a year and a half to prepare employees and the community through press releases, email, banners on our websites so that people can prepare. We’ve been distributing where people requested tobacco ‘quit kits.’ We have website setup where people can get help quitting.”
Jensen continued to explain the support for the new policy.
“We did do a lot of survey before this was adopted, and it was overwhelmingly positive,” Jensen said. “We met with all the union [representatives] so that they were aware of it. All those parks supported [it].”
Yolo County health officer Ron Chapman explained the harmful effects second-hand smoke can have.
“Disease caused by second-hand smoke continues to kill over 40,000 people in the United States each year,” Chapman said. “Smoke-free policies that address both indoor and outdoor spaces are some of the best ways to protect our community, reduce that number and keep our county healthy.”
UC Davis has been a smoke free campus since 2014. Matt Ko, a first-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major at UC Davis, expressed his satisfaction with the long standing smoke-free campus.
“I have noticed that not as many students smoked in college compared to high school,” Ko said. “I actually didn’t know UC Davis tried to enforce a smoke-free campus. Now it makes sense why less people smoke.”
Other counties across California have also adopted this smoke-free legislation. The nearby counties of Solano, Contra Costa and Placer have made their properties smoke free, while West Sacramento made its city-owned buildings and parks smoke free in 2017.
“The best way [to enforce the policy] is to follow the policy,” Jensen said.
Written by: John Regidor — email@example.com