Data on smokefree state fairs – 9/23/09
Q: In Oregon, several of our local, county tobacco control coordinators are beginning to look at a policy campaign that would result in a smokefree state fair. At the state level, we did a small, convenience sample survey a couple of years ago and determined that the majority of fairgoers surveyed were in support of a smokefree state fair. Our county partners are conducting a similar survey this year, but with a much larger sample - we are helping them to analyze the data they just collected.
As a part of the communications plan, the coordinators are looking for data that would help them make their case to the fair board, and the experience of other states could be very influential. Does your state have a smoke-free or tobacco-free state fair? If so, do you have data showing attendance increases (or, at least stable attendance) after passage of the policy? Are there any tips, issues or barriers you can share regarding going smoke-free/tobacco-free? Thanks!
- Alabama: In 2007 the city of Geneva, Alabama passed a smoking ordinance with some extras geared at preventing access to and initiation of tobacco products by youth. One of the main extras was the elimination of free tobacco samples during the Geneva City River Festival.
Before the ordinance passed in 2007 free smokeless tobacco samples were passed out as festival participants entered the gates. A school based tobacco prevention grantee awarded through the state office was able to petition the city council and others to support and pass a smoking ordinance for the city of Geneva. Early on we let it be known that we advocated eliminating the distribution of free tobacco products where children were present. The city council agreed and passed all of the extras we advocated for during the educational campaign to support the ordinance. The extra that pertained directly to the River Festival was the prohibition of any free tobacco sampling on public property. While we would certainly prefer it said within the city limits of Geneva, it did stop the free distribution at the festival and reinforced the prevention work performed in the school. The prevention grant coordinator and her youth peer group were instrumental in bringing about this change.
To my knowledge the rule has never been challenged and was welcomed by many of the residents of Geneva. Each year the grant coordinator and her youth peer group provide secondhand smoke and tobacco cessation information to the festival participants. A copy of the ordinance is available on our website at http://www.adph.org/tpts/index.asp?id=1827. I hope you find this information helpful and please feel free to contact Corey Kirkland with any further questions at CoreyKirkland@adph.state.al.us.
- California: California does have a policy that prohibits smoking on Cal Expo (the State Fairgrounds) property. However, although it is billed as such, it isn’t a completely smoke-free fair as there are designated smoking areas. There was no provision made for enforcement of the policy, and it isn’t well enforced. I would suggest that enforcement should be addressed in any tobacco-free fair policies.
The policy language we do have is very specific as to the areas where smoking will not be allowed: “within the Floriculture tent; at areas designated for seating; eating areas; seating underneath low ceilings at the Expo Center; at the Petting Farm, Pony Ride, and Livestock Nursery area; at the semi-covered seating and walkway area at the Farm; in designated seating areas in the Amphitheatre; in the area immediately surrounding the Kiddie Carnival; in designated seating areas in the Rodeo Arena; and in designated seating areas in the Horse Racing Arena.”
One clause we did get into the policy that I think is important to include in some similar form is the following: “It is the intent of Cal Expo that this policy shall extend to any entity, organization, person, or group that leases, rents, uses or otherwise holds events on Cal Expo property.”
Several of California’s County Fairs are also having great success with completely smoke-free fairs without designated smoking areas, most notably, Del Norte County, a very rural area in the far northwest corner of the state that is typically fairly conservative. Please see a list below (from Del Norte County) of five things they did that they felt were very important in getting support for the policy:
- Cigarette butt pick up with results and actual butts shared with the fair board during a presentation.
- According to our fair manager, the fairground customers are vendors, so a vendor survey was important. We did two vendor surveys, one during the fair and one during the Green Day fair.
- Being persistent, I attended fair board meeting for 5 straight months. They got to know me and I got to know them.
- Getting kids to attend the board meeting and preparing them to speak in public.
- Lastly, we made a commitment to being involved for the long haul, in others words, not ditching them once the policy was approved. TUPP paid for the no smoking signs and banners.
Interesting note: the fair attendance was higher this year so the no smoking policy had no negative effect.
California has also produced a toolkit available from the Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California entitled, “County Fairs and Other Outdoor Events.” This toolkit describes steps for making fairs and outdoor events smoke-free, or establishing smoke-free areas. It includes specific information on approaching fair boards, provides sample smoke-free policies, and covers implementation and enforcement issues.
Fair attendance has many different factors influencing it (e.g., for the CA state fair, attendance was down this year, partially due to the economy, and partially due to the fair being somewhat late and overlapping with the return of students to school).
Editor’s note: California’s County Fairs and Other Outdoor Events manual is available online at
- Indiana: Our state fair went to a new policy last year. We have several local county fairs that have smokefree policies.
- Does your state have a smoke-free or tobacco-free state fair?
The Iowa Smokefree Air Act specifically exempted the state fairgrounds from requirements that the grounds of all public building be smoke-free. However, the state fair board elected to regulate smoking according to the stipulations of the act as they apply to any other state property by limiting smoking to outdoor areas that are not associated with entertainment or food service. All enclosed structures, outdoor seating or serving areas of restaurants, and designated viewing areas for entertainment must be smoke-free. In the crowded venue of the fairgrounds, smoking is, in effect, very limited. The 2008 press release from the Iowa State Fair Board is below.
“In accordance with the Smokefree Air Act, portions of the Fairgrounds is now smoke-free. While smoking is still allowed in the walkway areas of the Fairgrounds, the law does apply to sections designated by no smoking signs. Smoke-free areas of the Fairgrounds include:
• Outdoor entertainment venues – designated seating areas of all free stage areas, building porches and grounds attraction areas.
• Restaurants and bars – both enclosed and open serving areas, eateries and concession stands.
As in the past, smoking is not allowed in buildings or in the Grandstand area.”
- If so, do you have data showing attendance increases (or, at least, stable attendance) after passage of the policy?
The Iowa Smokefree Air Act became effective on July 1, 2008. Estimated Iowa State Fair attendance figures are shown below:
*Iowa Smokefree Air Act in effect
- West Virginia:
Response #1: We have not (as yet) addressed this issue here in WV… But we would be interested in seeing other State and Territory responses!
Response #2: Please see attached files:
The “college policies best sample” and the smokefree outdoor areas documents were all samples, suggestions or ideas of what could be covered and possible language. Thankfully in WV we have done an incredible job enacting county-level Clean Indoor Air regulations, but now some organizations are looking at outdoor area regulations.
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