Pixabay | Katie Rose

Disney Is Banning Smoking In All Parks

It's funny, but smoking has become so uncommon that it's actually notable when I'm out walking and smell cigarettes. It's been banned in so many places that I would need to go out of my way to find where the smokers are hiding.

We've come a long way from the days when smoking was a common pastime, considered cool or even healthy, but there's still a long way to go.

Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.

Unsplash | A B E D K A Y A L I

It accounts for 1 in 5 deaths each year, according to the CDC and 34 million Americans still light up regularly.

That's almost the entire population of Canada!

And yet, it's nothing compared to the highs smoking rates once sat at.

The peak of the habit was in 1954, when 45% of the US population smoked regularly, but it's been falling steadily ever since.

Part of this is attributed to a generational shift.

A Gallup poll in 2018 found that the largest changes were seen in the 18-29 age group. In the early 2000s, 34% of that age group said that they smoked a cigarette in the past week, but in the 2018 poll, it was only 15%.

Researchers hypothesize that the dramatic shift is due to the growing number of public smoking bans in the 21st Century.

Unsplash | Lex Guerra

The younger generation grew up in a time where the bans were in place or being created, leading them to see the act as something to be ashamed of.

It's lost the "cool" factor.

It's that popular perception that matters more than health warnings when changing habits.

Disney has already taken steps to ensure kids see fewer depictions of smoking in their media.

In 2015, they banned smoking in all their films rated G, PG, or PG-13. Since they own so many studios, that ban included films from places like Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Now that they've purchased Fox, that ban may expand to those properties as well.

And now they're taking the step of banning smoking entirely within their theme parks.

Unsplash | pan xiaozhen

Previously, smoking had been limited to specified areas of the parks, but starting May 1, 2019, attendees will have to leave the park to light up.

It's all part of an initiative to allow visitors to have a better time as attendance rates grow.

Unsplash | Travis Gergen

Crowds are getting so large that it's not just smoking areas seeing changes.

The parks are also banning oversized strollers and will no longer allow people to bring coolers containing loose ice that forces longer bag check times as security has to dig through it to make sure nothing is hidden.

Resorts will still have designated smoking areas available for guests.

We'll have to wait and see if other theme parks do the same, but history shows that they have a habit of mimicking Disney when big changes are made.

h/t: Orlando Sentinel