What is the Birmingham Health District?
The Health District is a smoke-free area established by a City of Birmingham ordinance to promote health and wellness of patients, employees, students and visitors. All sidewalks, streets and outdoor public areas in the district are designated smoke-free.
Does the passage of the Health District change the tobacco policies of my employer/institution?
No, the Health District only addresses the public right of ways. Please review the policy of your institution, which may be more inclusive than the Health District policy for all tobacco products.
Why was a smoke-free Health District created?
The Health District was created to promote health and wellness of patients, employees, students and visitors, including enhancing walkability in the area and decreasing exposure to second-hand smoke. All sidewalks, streets, bus stops, curbs, gutters, parks and outdoor public areas in the Health District are designated smoke-free as of Dec. 1, 2019. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no risk-free amount of exposure to second-hand smoke. Major health-focused employers in the Health District are committed to promoting healthy living, including offering help to those who want to quit smoking.
Where is the Health District?
The Health District includes several health-focused organizations on Birmingham’s Southside, spanning roughly from 12th Avenue South to 4th Avenue South, and 8th Street South to 22nd Street South. View the Health District map.
Who is involved?
Partners that wanted a health district to support their non-smoking policies include Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Children’s of Alabama, City of Birmingham, Cooper Green Mercy Health Services, Jefferson County Department of Health, Southern Research and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
What resources are available to help me quit smoking?
Partner organizations are proud to make smoking cessation resources available. Calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW and talking to your doctor are also good options.
Can I get a ticket, be disciplined by my employer or be asked to leave the area for smoking in the Health District?
The city ordinance prohibits smoking in the Health District, so law enforcement can issue a fine or otherwise encourage compliance. Organizations within the district can enforce Human Resource and other policies and codes of conduct that address smoking. However, positive reinforcement and encouragement, including offering resources to help people quit smoking, is the preferred approach.
Are there designated smoking areas within the Health District, or do I have to go to the boundary?
There will be a limited number of designated smoking areas within the Health District where information and resources (e.g., nicotine replacement therapy, 1-800-QUIT-NOW promotion) to help people not smoke may be present.
What should I say if I see someone smoking in the Health District?
Law enforcement professionals have the authority to enforce a city ordinance; the average person does not. However, there are things you can say and do to encourage healthy living and clean air.
If there is a location within the Health District where you are concerned about smoking taking place, you can make the appropriate partner organization aware, so short-term and/or long-term steps can be taken to encourage a smoke-free environment.
Can I call the police if I see someone smoking in the Health District?
No. DO NOT CALL 9-1-1 or the police department if you see someone smoking in the Health District. While law enforcement officials can encourage compliance with the smoke-free Health District city ordinance, it is not an offence that should tie up vital first responder communication systems.
What if private property owners in the Health District want to smoke or designate a smoking area on their property?
Smoking is not allowed on city sidewalks or other public outdoor spaces within the district. If not in contradiction with either existing ordinances or laws, private property owners could designate smoking areas on their property. Some organizations offer limited designated smoking areas where information and resources (e.g., nicotine replacement therapy, 1-800-QUIT-NOW promotion) to help people not smoke may be present.
Does the non-smoking ordinance include vaping or e-cigarettes?
The ordinance does not include vaping and e-cigarettes at this time. However, some organizations within the Health District, like the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have policies that prohibit vaping/e-cigarettes on the university campus.