Town of Sahuarita bans smoking at all public parks - Tucson News Now

Town of Sahuarita bans smoking at all public parks

Source: Kristin Haubrich / Tucson News Now Source: Kristin Haubrich / Tucson News Now
SAHUARITA, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Southern Arizona town of Sahuarita has just banned smoking at all of its public parks.

"It’s a harm to the community," said Anza Trail School seventh grader Nathan Lyon.

Teens involved in the Student Wellness Advocacy Team, or SWAT, at Anza Trail School set out to make a positive change in their town after they witnessed people clutter their favorite parks with cigarette litter.

"We noticed a lot of cigarette butts in the lake," said Anza Trail teacher Nataly Van Alstine.

"We picked up over 4,000 cigarette butts on one day," said ninth-grade SWAT member Leila Bivins.

The students said they also were concerned with the dangers of secondhand smoke and created a survey to see if others agreed.

"It says, does it bother you that other people smoke next to you at the park? So, 54 people said it did and 8 people said it did not," explained Van Alstine.

The student SWAT presented its findings to the Sahuarita Parks and Recreation Commission, which recently voted unanimously to accept the students' recommendation and make all six parks in town tobacco-free. The smoking ban also includes e-cigarettes, medical marijuana and smokeless types of tobacco. But not everyone is on board with this decision.

"It’s not offensive at all," Nancy Brubaker said.

Brubaker smokes e-cigs and said this new park rule infringes on her freedom.

"It’s none of their business," Brubaker said.

But the students are proud of their accomplishment. Now they hope their project will inspire others.

"It could show other people that anything is possible if you work hard for it," Bivins said.

People are allowed to smoke in the park parking lots.

The Pima County Health Department helped by providing a grant for funding and education for the Anza Trail SWAT club.

The students plan to take the "tobacco free" park rule to the Sahuarita Town Council. They hope the town council will eventually turn the ban into an ordinance, that would then be enforced by the police.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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