The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) showed strong leadership in protecting the health and well-being of residents and visitors to Minneapolis parks on March 8. The Board voted unanimously to make all Minneapolis parks tobacco-free, with an exemption for use of tobacco with traditional Native American spiritual or cultural ceremonies.

“We are excited to join with dozens of other local park systems in becoming completely tobacco-free, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Jayne Miller said. “This policy supports our mission to promote healthy lifestyles and environments for residents and park visitors across Minneapolis and will contribute to many park patrons’ use and enjoyment of our system. I also want to thank Commissioner Steffanie Musich for taking a lead role in developing this important policy.

The Board’s current Smoking/Tobacco Use Policy, which was approved in 2009, does not address the use of chewing tobacco or electronic cigarettes. The new tobacco policy expands to cover both of those uses and also honors traditional Native American spiritual or cultural ceremonies.

A July 2016 survey of Minneapolis residents conducted by Morris Leatherman for the Minneapolis Healthier Parks Initiative found that 60 percent of respondents supported Minneapolis parks being 100 percent tobacco-free at all times. On Wednesday, a diverse group of Minneapolis residents, including LaTrisha Vetaw of NorthPoint Health & Wellness and Breathe Free North and Emily Anderson from the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota (ANSR), spoke out in support of the policy. Vetaw said the policy was the result of hardworking, dedicated young people who wanted to see it happen.

“The Minneapolis Park Board stepped up to the plate and did a great thing for the city,” Vetaw said. “Making the parks 100 percent tobacco-free will protect everyone who uses our parks. Special thanks to Steffanie Musich and to all the other park commissioners for their hard work, dedication and commitment to our youth.

The policy went into effect May 8, 2017.