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Creating Tobacco-Free Spaces

Smoke from cigarettes and other burning tobacco products, as well as aerosol from e-cigarettes/vapes, can harm people nearby who are not using these products.

Tobacco-free spaces protect children and adults from sickness and disease and help people live healthy lives.

Tobacco-free spaces also help kids see the importance of never starting to use tobacco and keep outdoor spaces free of tobacco trash.

  • Why are tobacco-free outdoor areas important?

    1. Healthy environments for healthy living. Secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol can cause heart disease, cancer, breathing problems, and ear infections and can make asthma worse. Children, older adults, people with special health needs, and pregnant women are most at danger from exposure, even when outdoors.
    2. No tobacco trash.
      • Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world.
      • Butts are slow to break down and cost a lot to clean up.
      • Tobacco litter can be deadly to wildlife and people. It can cause stomach problems and poisoning when eaten by fish and other aquatic animals. People who eat fish that have tobacco-related chemicals in their systems may also become sick.
      • E-cigarettes have batteries that can leak heavy metals like mercury and lead, as well as battery acid, into the ground.
      • Children often pick up e-cigarette trash and cigarette butts and place them in their mouths - putting them at risk for getting very sick or even dying.
      • Butts and e-cigarettes that are still burning or are not turned off can cause fires and burns.
    3. Positive model for youth. Tobacco-free outdoor spaces show youth that being tobacco-free is common. Allowing commercial tobacco use in parks, on beaches, and in other recreation areas where youth and families with young children go sends a dangerous message. Commercial tobacco use is not what we want to show children. Tobacco-free outdoor spaces have been shown to help kids stay tobacco free.

    Image credit: The Young Lungs at Play image is a small version of a poster developed by the Sault Tribe Housing Authority in partnership with the Sault Tribe Strategic Alliance for Health Project. Clicking on the image will take you to a larger version of the poster.


  • Being around secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol can lead to serious health problems, including lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, and can make asthma worse in adults and children.

    Secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol can get into apartments from many places, including vents and cracks in walls or floors. As e-cigarette use rises, the number of explosions and fires in the home is likely to increase.

    Adding e-cigarettes to smoke-free housing policies is an easy way to limit property damage and keep cleaning costs down.

    Since people spend more time at home than any other place, getting rid of tobacco smoke and e-cigarette aerosol in apartments and other housing can greatly improve the health of the people living there.



  • Tobacco is typically not allowed inside workplace buildings.

    But, it's also important to create tobacco-free outdoor worksite campuses to encourage commercial tobacco users to quit and create a healthy workplace for all employees. Examples of tobacco-free outdoor worksite campuses include county office properties, hospital campuses, and the grounds of community agencies and businesses.


  • Information about tobacco-free schools can be found on our Prevent Kids from Using Tobacco webpage.

  • At least 99 percent of cigarette smokers start before the age of 26, and young adults have the highest rates of adult e-cigarette use in Michigan. This makes college and university campuses an important setting for applying strategies to prevent the next generation of tobacco users.

    Initiatives to adopt 100 percent tobacco-free and smoke-free policies on campuses aim to change social norms, prevent young adults from initiating tobacco products, decrease secondhand smoke and aerosol exposure, support quitting, and reduce tobacco litter.


    cover of MDHHS report entitled Tobacco-Free Report Card: Michigan Colleges and UniversitiesTobacco-Free Report Card: Michigan Colleges and Universities (2022)
    In April 2022, the MDHHS Tobacco Section released a report that reviewed and assessed current tobacco policies at public and private colleges and universities in the state. The purpose of the report is to reveal trends and educate and encourage college decision makers to adopt comprehensive tobacco-free and smoke-free policies to promote health and wellness for their campus communities.
    The MDHHS Tobacco Section provides free training and technical assistance to support tobacco-free policy adoption, strengthening policies, and improving equitable enforcement. Call 517-335-8376 to request technical assistance and/or training.
           Read the full reportPDF icon


    Additional Resources

  • Information about tobacco-free restaurants and bars can be found on our Michigan's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law webpage.

  • Information about tobacco-free vehicles can be found on our The Dangers of Secondhand & Thirdhand Smoke webpage.