Tobacco-free outdoor public spaces including parks, playgrounds, beaches, libraries and municipal buildings are important to the health of our children and communities as a whole. Limiting exposure to secondhand smoke in areas of public access and recreation improves the quality of the air we share.
Benefits to Tobacco-Free Spaces
In outdoor recreational areas including parks and beaches, tobacco-litter and secondhand smoke can be hazardous – especially for children.
Currently, over 500 municipalities in New York State have made outdoor recreation areas tobacco-free.
- Protecting park users from the harmful and damaging effects of secondhand smoke exposure.
- Reducing tobacco litter.
- Providing an environment that supports tobacco-free living.
- Being responsive to the majority of NYS residents who support tobacco-free parks, beaches and other outdoor recreational areas.
Cigarette butts are hazardous.
Many cigarette butts end up on the ground. Young children may pick up the butts and put them in their mouth, possibly choking or burning themselves. The harmful chemicals and nicotine in discarded cigarettes can be toxic and even fatal to a small child or family pet.
Secondhand smoke is harmful.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from colds, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous to children and adults with asthma or chronic illnesses.
Policy as a Solution
The Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes works with municipalities to encourage them to adopt no-smoking rules for their buildings.
There is both scientific and legal reason to support creating these rules:
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified secondhand smoke as a Class A Carcinogen. Placing it in the same category as radon, benzene, and asbestos.
- Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances. Over 40 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and many of which are strong irritants.
- The Surgeon General has declared that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.
- United States Courts have declared that there is no legal “right to smoke”. Smoking is not a protected activity under the U.S. Constitution.
Children Model Adult Behaviors
When children see adults smoking in a family-friendly place like a park, they think smoking is acceptable and is more likely to copy the behavior. Our children deserve a clean, safe place to play.
What you can do to make parks, playgrounds and outdoor areas smoke-free:
- Join community members throughout the Finger Lakes who are speaking out.
- Reach out to TACFL for assistance
- Join our local coalition working on this issue.