Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Great Town of Hempstead Smoke-Out

Town Coughs Up Legislation To Ban Smoking In The Park (Smoldering Is Still Permitted ;-)

First it was the ban on cell towers. Now it is a ban on smoking in Town parks. Could it be that Town officials are truly concerned about our health and well-being? [When they ban taxation by special districts and zoning that creates a mish-mosh in our "downtowns," we may concede the point. Until then, we have to believe that "building healthier communities" is more smokescreen than kickiing butt along Main Street.]

Anyway, it reads well on paper, and makes good fodder for the press around the holidays. It may serve as material for the next Murraygram to hit your mailbox rather than the genuine act of actually caring about constituents, but, for most, yet another smoke-free environment (next step, a ban on smoking anywhere on planet Earth) is a move in the right direction.

So, take that turkey-trot around your local Town park, but if you've got 'em, don't you dare smoke 'em!

Happy Thanksgiving from The Community Alliance.

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From the Town of Hempstead:

Building Healthier Communities: Town Board Adopts Smoke-Free Parks Legislation

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and the Town Board adopted legislation designating the township's 100 parks "smoke free," a step that will protect thousands of children and adults who recreate at the town's facilities from the ill effects of second-hand smoke.

"From swimming and ice skating to basketball, walking and playground activities, Hempstead Town parks are part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle," stated Murray. "Restricting smoking at these facilities makes good common sense and protects children and other neighbors from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke."

The new local law passed at the November 23rd Town Board meeting prohibits all smoking at the town's 100 parks, except in designated areas. Officials have indicated that those areas will be away from playing fields and courts, playgrounds, pools and pool decks, concession areas, bleachers, waterfront beach areas and other locations that would subject park patrons to second-hand smoke.

"This new legislation is an important step in protecting the health of our residents," said Councilwoman Angie Cullin. "Smoking is known to cause cancer and has no place in areas where families and children are exercising and enjoying other healthy pursuits."

Murray indicated that the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island had approached officials in America's largest township, and the two entities commenced a productive dialogue on how to make parks and beaches healthier. Carol Meschkow of the Coalition spoke at Town Board meetings on the dangers of second-hand smoke and subsequent conversations resulted in the smoke free parks legislation.

"The town's exceptional network of parks, playgrounds, beaches and other recreational venues should be places where families can go to enjoy the outdoors and fresh air and not have to worry about exposure to second-hand smoke, which is a Class A carcinogen, particularly our precious children with their maturing lungs," said Meschkow.

"Reducing tobacco use is an effective investment in our next generation, and Supervisor Murray and the Town of Hempstead have clearly placed their children's future as the number one priority, and we couldn't be more pleased."

Hempstead officials and the Tobacco Action Coalition released some sobering statistics and other information in support of the new proposal. Approximately 25,000 adults in New York die from cigarette smoking annually, and nearly 21,000 children under the age of 18 become daily smokers in the state each year. Second-hand smoke contains over 40 cancer-causing substances, and the Surgeon General has declared that there is no safe level of second-hand smoke. In fact, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified second-hand smoke in the same category as radon, benzene and asbestos as far as its carcinogenic designation.

One of the primary beneficiaries of the legislation will be young children, according to the Supervisor. Murray noted that the benefits of smoke free parks coupled with the educational efforts of teachers will send a powerful message to young people. In fact, several students in Ms. Ilene Robinson's third grade class at Levy Lakeside Elementary School attended a press conference earlier this month to express their thoughts on smoking.

"If you smoke it is bad for your health and we need clean air," said Camryn, a student at Levy Lakeside. "Smoke-free parks are a good idea because smoking isn't good for the environment and it could make kids sick when they breathe it in," added Lauren, another student in Ms. Robinson's class.

"With our new smoke-free parks legislation, we're going to protect residents from the dangerous effects of second-hand smoke," concluded Murray.

1 comment:

  1. There's nothing wrong with this, obviously, but it's the "same old same old" from the Town of Hempstead. In a lot of ways it's not what they're doing that's problematic, it's what they NOT doing. We can spend a lot of time talking about smoking in parks, or the STOP program, or God knows, grass-eating goats, and for every day we do this, another day goes by in which the Town's biggest problems only get worse. Special districts keep on gouging us, downtowns keep on falling apart, and the Town's economic competitiveness keeps on declining. Unfortunately the problem is us: Murray and others like her wouldn't waste our time with this kind of crap if we demanded more from our elected officials.