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I am a resident of Calvert County. In the spring of 2012, my daughter played softball for the Northern Calvert Little League, NCLL, at Dunkirk District Park. It was my daughter’s first year playing softball for NCLL. During one of the games last June, I was surprised and disturbed that several of the players’ parents were smoking cigarettes while standing right behind the dugout where my daughter and her teammates sat. I approached the parents and asked them to stop smoking near the dugout because of their proximity to the children, and suggested they move elsewhere (away from the dugout) if they wanted to continue to smoke. My request was met with expletives and adamant refusals to stop smoking near the dugout during the game. The parents continued to smoke until the game was over.

Following the game, I looked into the smoking policies at children’s events at Calvert County parks and was surprised to learn that Calvert County does not have a tobacco-free policy at its parks. Some of the sports leagues have smoking regulations; however, they are vague and, without the county’s support, there is virtually no enforcement of what regulations exist.

The Calvert County Division of Parks and Recreation’s mission statement reads: “The Division provides opportunities for healthful, enjoyable, lifetime leisure activities to our entire community through a comprehensive program of recreational activities in the community centers, aquatic facilities, the public schools and the county parks. The division is also responsible for the management, maintenance and developments of the county’s active recreation parks.”

The division prides itself on providing opportunities for “healthful, enjoyable, lifetime leisure activities to our entire community,” yet it does not have a tobacco-free policy at its parks? Undisputed medical evidence shows that smoking cigarettes kills, as does the inhalation of secondhand smoke. Calvert County has nine beautiful parks filled with many athletic fields and tennis courts used by thousands of children and their families each year. There are countless walkers and runners at the parks, in addition to the playgrounds for little children. A tobacco-free policy at our parks is necessary. At a minimum, Calvert County should implement a tobacco-free policy at each of the nine parks during any children’s events and at all of the playgrounds. Instituting such a policy is the right thing to do, and it is not novel.

Two neighboring counties, Charles and St. Mary’s, have tobacco-free policies in place that prohibit smoking on their parks’ fields. Effective March 4, 2013, a no-smoking policy at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium was adopted by the Maryland Stadium Authority, and applies to all games and events held within the two structures. The ban prohibits “the burning of a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, or any other matter or substance that contains tobacco within the stadiums, whether such spaces are covered or uncovered, walled exposed, or open or closed to public access.” Additionally, the ban will “prohibit smoking within 25 feet of any entry, outdoor air intake, or operable window of the stadium structure.” The new policy brings Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium more in line with other stadiums across the country. Nationals Park, home to the Washington Nationals baseball team, is a 100-percent no-smoking park. The University of Maryland at College Park initiated a 100-percent smoke-free policy, effective June 2013.

There is no question that Calvert County should have a tobacco-free policy at its parks, particularly because they are used by our children. We are our children’s advocates, and only through our voices will their health and well-being be protected.

Please urge our county commissioners to adopt a tobacco-free policy at our county parks, via email at, or by phone at 410-535-2160.

Beth M. Bubser, Dunkirk