PLATTSBURGH - During the March 11 city Common Council meeting, councilors voted unanimously to instituting a tobacco-free policy in all 17 parks and beaches in the city of Plattsburgh.
The policy is one adopted with the help of three organizations - the City of Plattsburgh Recreation Department, Adirondack Tobacco Free Network and Colleges for Change.
"Tobacco-free policies for beaches, parks, recreation areas are important for a number of reasons," explained Karen Derusha, a representative of the Adirondack Tobacco Free Network. "One, is second-hand smoke issues. Another is tobacco litter. And, the other thing that's really important is the modeling of behaviors for children."
Linda LaFave, program coordinator for Colleges for Change, said 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered across the world every year.
"Those filters ... are made out of plastic and that's why they aren't biodegradable," she said. "All those chemicals can leech out of that filter and get into the water system."
The chemicals create other problems for the environment as well.
"There are studies that show how detrimental [cigarettes are] to wild life," Derusha said. "There are studies that have shown that fish will actually eat those, birds will eat them, dogs will eat them, and children will sometimes."
The passing of the policy is something recreation department superintendent Steve Peters was happy to see.
"I think more than anything, it's symbolic of the direction most people want the city to go in," he said. "Hopefully, it will clean up some of the cigarette butts and the trash that we have lying around. It'll take a little time to do that, but ... we'll see a difference eventually."
To begin the process, LaFave is working with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
"All 16 fraternities and sororities are going to go out and actually clean up the parks," she said.