NORWICH — On Saturday, November 19, staff and youth from the Tobacco Free Zone/Reality Check program of Chenango County commemorated this year’s Great American Smokeout by conducting a tobacco cleanup in the City of Norwich. A significant amount of tobacco litter was collected to advocate for stronger measures to protect people and the environment from the harms associated with tobacco.
The good news is that the number of tobacco-free outdoor areas is growing across Chenango County, including Chobani, Lindy’s Ice Cream Stop, and many outdoor community festivals. In addition, New York State recently passed legislation which prohibits smoking of tobacco and cannabis in any public municipal park.
However, the state law does not include vaping. Local municipalities have the authority to expand the provisions set forth in the New York State law to be more comprehensive, consistent, and easier to enforce.
Without policies in place, people can smoke, vape and use non-combustible tobacco and cannabis products in outdoor areas not affected by New York State law. It’s important to make public areas accessible to all members of the community, including those with health conditions that can be worsened by exposure to secondhand smoke and electronic device aerosol.
Unlike many other health issues, one person’s choice to use tobacco can directly affect the health of others. Tobacco smoke is a known human carcinogen and can also cause heart disease, respiratory issues, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
A tobacco-free environment supports people who want to or have already made the choice to quit. In addition, tobacco-free spaces reduces the risk of fires, minimizes litter, improves the image of the property, and demonstrates to young people that the use of these products is socially unacceptable and undesirable.
“Chenango County’s adult smoking rate remains above the state average at 15.9 percent, including significantly high rates among those with disabilities and lower incomes," said Braderick Morrison, Tobacco Free Chenango Coordinator with Chenango Health Network. “We continue to carry a heavy burden of tobacco-related deaths, illness, and health care costs locally. Tobacco-free policies create environments that are conducive to quitting tobacco, promote the prevention of tobacco use, and eliminate the risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke and aerosol.”
The Tobacco Free Zone program of Chenango County can assist municipalities, employers, and other groups to transition their property to tobacco-free spaces. The Tobacco Free Zone program also encompasses the teen tobacco-free advocacy group, Reality Check. To learn more, please visit TFreeZone.net.
-Information provided by Tobacco Free Chenango