A Community Creates Smokefree Change
Baker City, a historic community on the Oregon Trail, rightly promotes itself as a beautiful "base camp" for exploring Eastern Oregon’s pristine mountains, rivers and hiking trails. Unfortunately, tobacco has undermined this healthy image.
The county health department’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program (TPEP) has worked for years to reduce tobacco use by increasing community awareness of the dangers of tobacco. Yet Baker County has one of the state’s highest rates of tobacco use: about 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 young people report currently using tobacco.
Wanting to create a more vital future for their town, several Baker City residents asked their leaders to make all city parks smokefree. Local TPEP staff supported and amplified their efforts, and in January 2014 the City Council passed a smokefree parks ordinance that already is making an impact.
Baker County’s TPEP increased the knowledge and engagement of the community, providing residents with the tools to create healthier, cleaner public spaces for themselves and their children.
New funding from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement is helping TPEP empower more communities and create similar success stories across Oregon, from Forest Grove in Washington County to the Warm Springs reservation in North Central Oregon. Counties receiving new funds include Benton, Linn, Lincoln, Douglas, Coos, Klamath, Yamhill, Multnomah and Lane.
Six months after Baker City’s policy took effect, TPEP staff documented only four people smoking out of hundreds who attended the annual Miner’s Festival at the city’s busiest park.
“It’s very powerful when citizens come up with their own initiatives,” said Kim Moiser, a Baker City Councilor. “This is our community. If we can get a majority to agree, then we get to decide what our public spaces look like.”
Learn more about TPEP's impact