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No butts about it

PLATTSBURGH Parks littered with cigarette butts and beaches overcast with clouds of second-hand smoke are hoped to be a thing of the past following action taken by the town of Plattsburgh. The town has become the first municipality within Clinton County to adopt a comprehensive tobacco-free beach and park policy. The announcement was made during a press conference at the town office building Monday morning. Town Supervisor Bernard C. Bassett said a resolution regarding the new policy was approved during the April 7 meeting of the Town Council. The motion, which was made by Councilman Thomas E. Wood and seconded by Councilman Martin D. Mannix, was approved unanimously. The policy, which is now in effect at all of the towns 10 parks and two swimming areas, prohibits all tobacco products, including cigarettes and chewing tobacco from the premises. The designated areas within the town include West Plattsburgh, Treadwells Mills, South Plattsburgh, Cliff Haven, Wallace Hill, Guy Cedar, May Currier and Everest Rabideau recreation parks and Cadyville and East Morrisonville recreation parks and beaches. The policy will have a voluntary enforcement, said Bassett, meaning people will mostly be on their honor to abide by the new regulations. Signs will clearly mark the areas as designated tobacco-free zones and notices will be posted at the town office building. Karen Derusha, tobacco-control specialist with the Adirondack Tobacco Free Network, heralded the announcement, as she first brought the idea before the council in February. The legislation, said Derusha, serves a dual purpose by creating a healthier environment for outdoor activities and eliminating the perception smoking is a social necessity. Policies like this really do make an impact on youth when they understand smoking is not a part of the social norm, that its something every adult does, said Derusha. Not seeing adults smoking in family and recreation-type activities is really an important aspect in keeping them from smoking in later years. The towns legislation will also serve as a role model for other communities to join the tobacco-free bandwagon, said Derusha. Interest in establishing tobacco-free areas has already been exhibited in the town of Black Brook, she said, which will be the next municipality she will work with to achieve that goal. [The information] couldve fallen on deaf ears and didnt, Derusha said of bringing the issue before the Plattsburgh Town Council. Town Recreation and Youth Services director Melanie Defayette said the topic of eliminating tobacco products from public municipal grounds is one that has become increasingly prevalent in local communities and even caught fire statewide. Fourteen municipalities across the state have adopted legislation to become completely tobacco-free while similar policies have been adopted mainly for parks and beaches in more than five counties. The beaches and the parks are places to be healthy and enjoy fresh air, said Defayette, This just goes along with the message by not having it there. While there is the possibility the new restrictions could have a negative impact on tourism, Bassett said he feels the opposite will be true, making the parks more attractive to come out and use. The supervisor said he also feels the policy could mean greater participation and attendance for youth recreation programs and other events. We do want adults to be role models in our community and keep our parks and swimming areas clean and tobacco-free so everyone can enjoy them, said Bassett. Though the new policy is expected to result in a reduction of tobacco-related litter such as cigarette butts and chewing tobacco canisters, the policy will not likely mean a major reduction in clean-up costs for the town, said Bassett. However, that wasnt the towns main intent, he said. Its not really about saving money as much as saving the health of future generations, he said.

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