Tobacco-Free Parks

City of Pendleton Parks are now Tobacco-Free!


Pendleton Parks and Recreation is excited to join other Oregon park systems in becoming 100% tobacco-free. This policy supports our mission to promote healthy lifestyles and environments for residents and park visitors in Pendleton.

Tobacco-free parks promote healthy living, and this new policy reflects the Pendleton Parks and Recreation Department’s mission: Working hand-in-hand in our community to provide excellence in our Parks and Recreation facilities and activities for a more livable, natural and healthy Pendleton.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Tobacco-Free Parks policy and what does it mean?
The new policy, set into ordinance by City Council as Ordinance 2645, states “Tobacco prohibited. No person shall use tobacco products, nor shall they smoke, aerosolize, or vaporize tobacco or any other inhalants, or carry a lighted smoking instrument or activated inhalant delivery system in all public places on all public parks properties, including city-owned cemeteries.” The full ordinance can be viewed at the link above.

In short, it means that no tobacco products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, “vapes,” smokeless tobacco, and so on, can be used on any park property including the Riverfront Plaza, the River Parkway, Olney Cemetery, and all park parking lots.

When does the new policy go into effect?
The ordinance went into effect on November 17, 2017. The first six months include an education period, which means no citations will be issued for violations of the ordinance.

Whom does the policy apply to?
Everyone, all park staff and visitors are prohibited from using tobacco products anywhere on City of Pendleton park properties.

Where does this policy apply?
No tobacco products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, “vapes,” smokeless tobacco, and so on, can be used on any park property including the Riverfront Plaza, River Parkway, Olney Cemetery, and all park parking lots.

What about people using alcohol or drugs such as marijuana or methamphetamines?
These substances are already covered in existing State of Oregon laws. It is illegal to use alcohol or marijuana in public places. It is illegal to use methamphetamines anywhere.



Do tobacco-free parks infringe on or violate any of my civil and/or Constitutional rights?
No. This policy does not take away individuals’ rights to choose to smoke or use tobacco. Instead, it asks tobacco users to refrain from smoking and using tobacco while visiting City parks.

Tobacco-free policies for outdoor recreational facilities and events do not restrict people from using these facilities or attending these events; rather, they aim to ensure that tobacco users refrain from using tobacco for the period of time that they are using the parks. This protects the public health rights of community members, especially children, who are also using these parks and facilities.

Can I smoke or use tobacco in my car since it is my personal property?
No. Tobacco use on any City of Pendleton park property is prohibited, including the parking lots, restrooms, and shelters. Employees and visitors must refrain from using tobacco until they leave our facilities, including parking areas.

How will the new policy be enforced?
For a six-month period ending April 17, 2018, education will be the sole method of enforcement. After that point, citations may be issues. However, issuing citations is not the goal of the ordinance. The goal of the ordinance is to eliminate tobacco use in public parks, and education is a more beneficial way to do that.

Tobacco users can assist with enforcement by choosing to smoke before or after using a public park. That is the best enforcement of the ordinance. If you have any questions about why this is best choice, see the information sheet regarding the effects of tobacco use below.

Enforcement will happen with courtesy and respect, with an emphasis on education and support. The primary method of enforcement will be education and asking for voluntary compliance. Community members are one of the best enforcement tools for a tobacco-free policy. Most people do not want to be exposed to secondhand smoke, and are willing to speak up if they are being exposed and know an ordinance is in place that is being violated.

What do I do if I see someone using tobacco in a park, on the River Walkway, or in Olney Cemetery? 
If you witness someone using tobacco, you have three options:

  1. If comfortable, approach the tobacco-user and inform them of the tobacco-free policy. There is language below to assist you.
  2. Report the violation to the Parks department, so they know where violations are occurring. Report the violation to the Police department, so they can assist in enforcing the ordinance. Please note that the Police department has advised that there is a priority system in place for dealing with reports to their department. Tobacco use will not take priority over more immediate needs. We want you to be aware of what to expect.
  3. Neither approach the tobacco user nor report the violation to Parks of Police. Your choice in how to deal with the matter is based on your own personal comfort level.

It is important that all park users help maintain a tobacco-free environment by respectfully educating anyone who is observed using tobacco products while in the park.

Excuse me, I wanted to let you know that this, and all city parks are now tobacco-free. Please put out your cigarette. If you wish to continue smoking, please respect the policy and go off park grounds. Thank you.

I would appreciate it if you would consider Parks and Recreation’s goal to provide a healthy environment for everyone. I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you. We ask that you respect the ordinance and not use tobacco in the park. Thank you.

Dealing with Resistance or Push-Back

When informing others of the policy, you may encounter resistance or push-back. Do not get into an argument. Walk away. If the patron knows of the policy and chooses not to comply, report the violation to the Parks department and/or the Police department. The city police can respond to a park violation, yet may not be able to respond in time to see the offense committed. Please report observed violations to the Parks and Recreation Department so we can better address the need for education and/or monitoring at specific park locations.

When reporting to Pendleton Parks and Recreation, you can call the front office at 541-276-8100 or email

Does this policy apply to special events that take place within City of Pendleton parks? 
Yes, the ordinance is always in effect.

What are the benefits of tobacco-free parks?

  • Tobacco-free policies are concerned with the health of everyone.
    • Tobacco-free parks create healthy and safe environments for residents and visitors, especially children.
    • Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in our community. Each year over 148 people in Umatilla County die from tobacco-related illnesses and 2,893 people live with a serious illness caused by tobacco products. 1
    • According to the United States Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
    • Tobacco-free supports individuals who are trying to quit tobacco use or have already quit. 70% of smokers want to quit and it is helpful to have tobacco-free environments to assist in their efforts.2
    • Tobacco-free reduces exposure of children and youth to smoking and tobacco use, protecting their health and discouraging them from starting tobacco use and potentially developing a nicotine addiction that is harder to quit the earlier it is started. 90% of tobacco users start or before the age of 18.3
  • Tobacco-free policies eliminate the confusion of staff, participants, and visitors about what is and is not allowed to be used.
    • Look for the posted “Tobacco-Free” signs in the park. These signs provide people with the ability to rely on community and self-enforcement. Many tobacco users look for “no tobacco” signs. Signs have been ordered for all parks and will be installed as soon as they arrive.
  • This policy protects parks and natural areas from potential risk of fires and litter caused from cigarettes butts.
  • Tobacco-free policies help reduce all tobacco waste (butts, wrappers, spit residue, spit containers etc.) on the ground and area.
    • Tobacco-free policies protect parks and natural areas from environmental degradation caused by littering of cigarette butts and other tobacco-related waste. Most cigarette butts are made from acetate, a plastic that can take up to approximately 10 years to biodegrade.4
    • Cigarettes, once consumed in public spaces, are often discarded on the ground requiring additional maintenance expenses, diminishing the beauty of our community’s facilities, and posing a risk to toddlers and wildlife due to ingestion. Less litter keeps city parks safe, clean, and appealing.
  • Contributes to cost savings: tobacco-related disease is still the leading cause of preventable death in Oregon and costs Umatilla County $29.5 million each year in medical care and $23.7 million in lost productivity.1

Why tobacco-free instead of smoke-free?
Smoke only covers certain types of tobacco, while the term “tobacco-free” encompasses all existing and future products that include tobacco.

What are some of the other cities and counties in Oregon that have smoke-free or tobacco-free parks? 
The City of Pendleton joins several other communities in Oregon, and is one of the first in Eastern Oregon!

(Partial list)

Benton County
City of Umatilla
Clatsop County
Cottage Grove
Lake Oswego
Lincoln City
Multnomah County
Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department
Umatilla County Parks

I’m a smoker or tobacco user who is interested in quitting smoking. What resources are available to me?

Oregon Quit Line: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Free for everyone.

For other tobacco cessation resources contact Umatilla County Tobacco Prevention & Education Coordinator at Umatilla County Public Health 541-278-5432.

Who do I contact if I have questions or comments?

Please email


  1. Oregon Health Authority.
  1. Center for Disease Control.…
  2. Center for Disease Control.
  3. Longwood University.
  4. U.S. Food and Drug Admin., Summary of Results: Laboratory Analysis of Electronic Cigarettes Conducted by FDA, Public Health Focus, FDA.GOV (July 22, 2009),
  5. Kevin Chatham-Stephens, MD, Royal Law, MPH, Ethel Taylor, DVM, Paul Melstrom, PhD, Rebecca Bunnell, ScD, Baoguang Wang, MD, Benjamin Apelberg, PhD, Joshua G. Schier, MD. “Notes from the Field: Calls to Poison Centers for Exposures to Electronic Cigarettes – United States, September 2010-February 2014.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Weekly April 4, 2014 / 63(13); 292-293.
  6. CDC. National Youth Tobacco Survey. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2013. Available at