Frequently Asked Questions

1) Why did the City of West Des Moines adopt this ordinance?

Tobacco-free park ordinances create cleaner parks, promote wellness, reduce youths’ exposure to tobacco, enhance park users’ experience, and aligns parks with the school system. A tobacco-free ordinance sends a clear message that we care about the health of the community, especially our youth.

2) Does this policy apply to everyone, including Parks and Recreation staff?

Yes. Everyone on parks property is expected to comply with this policy.

3) What is defined as a tobacco product? What is an electronic smoking device?

Here is how the ordinance defines electronic smoking device and tobacco product. Electronic Smoking Devices. The term “electronic smoking device” means any device that can be used to deliver an aerosolized solution that may or may not contain nicotine to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, vape pen, e-hookah or other simulated smoking device. Tobacco Product. The term "tobacco product" means any product made or derived from tobacco, such as nicotine, that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product. This includes, among other products, cigarettes, electronic smoking devices, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, smokeless, and dissolvable tobacco. Tobacco product does not include nicotine products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for tobacco cessation.

4) Can I use my electronic smoking device (e.g. e-cigarette, vape pen, e-hookah) if the liquid does not contain nicotine or I use nicotine-free liquid?

No. The use of electronic smoking devices are prohibited on park property, regardless of the liquid used in the device. If the device has the ability to deliver nicotine, whether it does or not, it is prohibited.

5) Why are electronic smoking devices (ESD) included in this ordinance?

Beyond health risk factors, ESD can create confusion and pose problems for enforcement.

6) Can I use nicotine replacement therapy (tobacco cessation) products/medication in the parks (e.g. nicotine gum, patch, lozenge)?

Yes you can use these products in the parks. Our definition of tobacco product does not include nicotine products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for tobacco cessation, such as the nicotine patch, gum, or lozenge.

7) Can I use tobacco/nicotine in my car?

No tobacco/nicotine product cannot be used in a person’s car while on park property, which includes parking lots. A person can use tobacco/nicotine products in his or her car when off park property.

8) Does this ordinance apply to all trails?

This ordinance only applies to trails that are on park property, including greenways. A person can use tobacco/nicotine products on trails that are not on park property, such as side paths along streets.

9) What will happen if someone violates the ordinance?

We respectfully ask everyone to not use tobacco products while on park property. We intend for this ordinance to be educational. If someone is using a tobacco/nicotine product, they may be politely reminded to stop using or leave park property if they wish to use. If a person still does not comply or repeatedly violates the ordinance, the City of West Des Moines police have authority to issue a warning or citation of $100 to park visitors who do not comply with the ordinance.

10) Where can I find the ordinance?

You can find the full ordinance here.

11) Does this ordinance apply to park or city events not held on park property?

The ordinance only applies to events or activities that are on park property.

12) What if I see someone using tobacco in the parks? What can I do to help with education and enforcement?

We encourage the community (parents, coaches, and other park users) to help educate and politely remind park visitors of the ordinance if they see someone using tobacco. The West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department will continue to provide education about the ordinance and signage will be posted throughout all the parks to help inform park users of the ordinance.

13) Where can I find or access information to help me or someone I know quit tobacco?

The American Lung Association in Iowa has excellent tobacco education and tobacco cessation resources available. You can contact the American Lung Association at 515-309-9507, for any questions or information. If you are ready and interested in quitting tobacco, a free resource available to Iowans 13 and older is Quitline Iowa.  Access more information about Quitline Iowa or call this number (1-800-784-8669). People who use this free resource are 2-3 times more likely to successfully quit using tobacco. We highly encourage anyone interested in quitting to call Quitline Iowa.

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