The Hempstead Town Board adopted legislation Tuesday morning that prohibits all smoking at the town's 100 parks, except in designated areas.
These areas will be located away from playing fields and courts, playgrounds, pools and pool decks, concession areas, bleachers and waterfront beach areas.
"From swimming and ice skating to basketball, walking and playground activities, Hempstead Town parks are part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle," stated Hemsptead Town Supervisor Kate 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 Town Board voted to pass this new law after they were approached by the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island about 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.
"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," she stated.
Murray also 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.
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.
- 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.