Tobacco Free Childcare in Des Moines

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Tobacco Free Childcare in Des Moines

Today it would seem natural that all childcare centers are completely tobacco and nicotine free. The health effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke are pretty well-known. The Iowa Smoke-Free Air Act (SFAA) and DHS prohibit tobacco use inside childcare facilities and homes and then outdoor play areas during hours of operation. If a childcare provider goes above and beyond what is required and puts a tobacco and nicotine-free policy in place then they can prevent confusion surrounding e-cigarettes and vapes and make sure that employees won’t smoke, chew, vape, or litter anywhere on the property. 

We know about secondhand smoke which can lead to a higher risk of chronic conditions like ear infections, asthma, and bronchitis in kids. What people may not realize is that thirdhand smoke (or vaping aerosol) can contribute to these health risks too. The exact definition of thirdhand smoke is the residue that remains on surfaces and clothing after someone smokes or vapes. Having a policy in place can help reduce the number of tobacco employees use while at work so that their clothes won’t smell like smoke or vape aerosol.

There are some gaps that can be filled in local providers’ policies to ensure our kids aren’t ever exposed to tobacco use while at childcare.

Here is what some local parents had to say: 

“As both a parent and a childcare provider, it is important that all children in my care are protected and safe, by being in a tobacco-free environment. Many parents that I have talked to were not aware of how thirdhand smoke can impact their children’s well-being, and I am glad I was informed of this information.” -Mindy A.

“As a parent, I feel like I am constantly worrying about my kid and trying to do everything I can to keep her safe. Before I first heard about the tobacco and nicotine-free childcare initiative, I had no idea to even ask if the in-home provider or center were 100% tobacco-free environments. I just assumed they were. I happened to take my little to a center that had signs posted saying they were tobacco and nicotine free; that it meant tobacco use/vaping wouldn’t ever take place around the property, so I wouldn’t have to worry about my very curious kid picking up cigarette butts from after hours and that if staff had to leave the property to use tobacco or vape only on their breaks, it would cut down on their usage, and they wouldn’t smell like smoke or vape. I understand that smoking or vaping is an addiction, so I don’t hold judgment on people who do it, and at the same time, I want to make sure my kids’ little, tiny lungs are breathing clean air as much as possible. -Alyssa D.

Childcare Providers in Polk County that have a Comprehensive Tobacco-free Policy:

What to look for in a policy:

If your childcare provider has the signage you see in this post, it means that their policy is comprehensive. Here is a checklist you can use when reviewing your childcare’s current tobacco policy:

  • It prohibits all tobacco products
    • cigarettes
    • cigars/cigarillos
    • chewing tobacco
    • electronic smoking devices (vaping)
    • Other nicotine products
  • It applies at all times
  • It extends to the entire property
  • It extends to staff, visitors, and vehicles
  • It addresses how it will be enforced

What You Can Do Next:

  • Look for this signage:
  • Review the parent handbook to see if the provider has any current tobacco policy. 
  • If not, you can ask the childcare provider if they are interested in implementing a tobacco and nicotine free childcare policy as recommended by the Iowa Quality Rating System through DHS and the IDPH by sharing this:

Benefits of a Comprehensive Policy: 

There are several benefits to seeking a childcare provider that has this type of policy in place. Schools, businesses, and childcare facilities are becoming tobacco and nicotine free across Iowa to:

  • Create a healthy and safe environment for the parents, staff, and families.
  • Make sure kids won’t be exposed to secondhand smoke or vaping aerosol or thirdhand smoke/aerosol while at childcare.
  • Reduce the risk of small kids ingesting tobacco waste that can be toxic.
  • Role model to prevent a future generation from getting addicted to nicotine.

You Can View the Entire Iowa Tobacco Free Registry by clicking here.

Feel free to reach out to our partners at the American Lung Association by emailing, or by calling (515) 309-9507 and asking for Josie if you want to learn more. *Produced with funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health, Division of Tobacco Use Prevention & Control.


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