County, City Seek Smoke, Vape Ban in Parks (Updated)

UPDATE (4/11/18): The Reno City Council today joined the county in advancing the smoke and vape bans in city parks.

The City of Reno is considering a ban on smoking and vaping in area parks at its meeting tomorrow at City Hall.

The effort is being advanced by the Washoe County Health District and area governments.

A committee comprising people from Sparks, Reno, and Washoe County Parks “determined that the prohibition of smoking and vaporized smoking in the region’s parks and recreational facilities serves to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents,” according to a staff report.

Exposure to smoke and aerosol from e-cigarettes is unhealthy, they said, and cigarette waste requires “additional maintenance expenses and (diminishes) the beauty of parks and recreation facilities.”

A survey was conducted by the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation found that the majority of non-randomized respondents “would like some regulation governing smoking in parks, whether it be a total ban or the creation of designated smoking areas.”

Those disagreeing called it another attempt by local government to pass unnecessary regulations.

Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey.
Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey.

Sparks is considering a similar ban, and today Washoe County approved draft changes to code to prohibit vaping and smoking in parks.

“As commissioners and northern Nevada residents, we’re proud of our open space, we’re proud of our parks and this is the right thing to do for our community,” said County Commissioner Bob Lucey. “We need to look at this from a global level, as long as we maintain parks, this falls in line with our vision and our mission.”

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Reno is scheduled tomorrow to consider whether to adopt an ordinance initiating the ban.

Study: Vaping Can Lead to Smoking Cessation

The Health District took a stand in 2015 against vaping, and the county banned e-cigarette use from county property.

Kevin Dick
Kevin Dick, Washoe County Health District.

“E-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy and no scientific evidence has shown e-cigarettes help smokers successfully quit traditional cigarettes,” District Health Officer Kevin Dick said in 2015.

A study published last year in the British Medical Journal, however, indicated that while vaping is on the rise, it may lead to reductions in smoking.

In 2014-15, e-cigarette users in the United States attempted to quit cigarette smoking and succeeded in quitting at higher rates than non-users. Second, the overall population smoking cessation rate in 2014-15 increased statistically significantly from that in 2010-11. The 1.1 percentage point increase in cessation rate (from 4.5% to 5.6%) might appear small, but it represents approximately 350,000 additional US smokers who quit in 2014-15.

The study had many limitations, however. It was non-randomized and based on self-reporting. As with most research, more study is needed to determine the validity of the results.

Moreover, e-cigarettes are not approved as smoking cessation devices and nicotine levels can vary in e-cigarette liquids.

The authors said that there are competing hypothesis as to whether vaping can reduce smoking. Nevertheless, they concluded that:

This study, based on the largest representative sample of e-cigarette users to date, provides a strong case that e-cigarette use was associated with an increase in smoking cessation at the population level. We found that e-cigarette use was associated with an increased smoking cessation rate at the level of subgroup analysis and at the overall population level. It is remarkable, considering that this is the kind of data pattern that has been predicted but not observed at the population level for cessation medication, such as nicotine replacement therapy and varenicline. This is the first statistically significant increase observed in population smoking cessation among US adults in nearly a quarter of a century. These findings need to be weighed carefully in regulatory policy making and in the planning of tobacco control interventions. (References were removed for readability. Read the complete study here.)

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UPDATE: This story was updated to reflect the county’s actions today to move forward with the ban.

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Bob Conrad is co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company. He also works part time for the University of Nevada, Reno.