On Monday, May 15th, the Town Board of Clifton Park took a step towards a healthier community by unanimously passing a resolution establishing 100% smoke-free parks and trails in the town. In doing so the new policy will help prevent exposure from secondhand smoke, reduce toxic tobacco litter in parks and send a positive message to young people that tobacco use doesn’t belong in the Town’s family friendly environments designed for active play.
According to the Living Tobacco-Free initiative of Glens Falls Hospital, tobacco litter is poisonous to children and wildlife. In addition, discarded cigarette butts are the number one littered item in the entire world and studies show they are toxic, slow to decompose, and costly to remove. Cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of birds and marine animals and can cause digestive blockages. Children routinely pick up cigarette butts and try to place them in their mouths.
Supervisor Barrett referred to anecdotal evidence during the discussion regarding the legislation. He stated that he has spent a great deal of time over the years at the Common and other parks with his children and through job related duties. He has never personally witnessed anyone smoking at the sports fields or playgrounds, but during the Town’s Annual Parks and Trails Clean-Up day in April, some of the more than 500 volunteers working reported finding cigarette butts in certain areas.
The Town has had established regulations related to Town buildings and specific recreational areas. NYS also has regulations for playgrounds and park areas. “The Town Board decided a blanket smoking ban was a prudent step at this point in time, which establishes a comprehensive policy for all recreational areas in Town, said Supervisor Barrett. “We will work in partnership with the Living Tobacco-Free Initiative to increase public awareness through additional signage and other effective means of communicating our commitment to this policy.”
The Living Tobacco-Free initiative of Glens Falls Hospital is one of the twenty-six grants that cover the entire state of New York funded by the NY Bureau of Tobacco Control Program. They educate community leaders and the public about the dangers and social costs of tobacco use, engage local stakeholders to adopt policies that restrict the tobacco industry’s presence, de-normalize tobacco use, and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. The Living Tobacco-Free initiative also provides free signage which the Town will utilize in the coming months.
"It is wonderful to see the Town of Clifton Park take this step forward to ensure all visitors of the parks and trails are not breathing in second-hand smoke which contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which cause cancer." said Heather LaSalvia, Program Coordinator of the Living Tobacco-Free initiative "Plus, one of the greatest ways we can encourage our youth not to smoke is to establish smoke-free environments like the Town has done.”
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