New York State Tobacco Control Program has launched a new campaign to educate New Yorkers about the benefits of tobacco-free outdoor recreational areas.
The campaign raises awareness of the environmental impact of tobacco litter, dangers of secondhand smoke and influence on children when tobacco use is not restricted.
Billboards with "Keep Butts Away From Where We Play" can be seen throughout the tri-county area this summer.
Tobacco litter is poisonous to children and wildlife. Discarded cigarette butts are the most common form of litter. Studies show they are toxic, slow to decompose and costly to remove.
Cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of fish, whales, birds and other marine animals and can cause digestive blockages.
Children routinely pick up these toxic butts and try to place them in their mouths.
The U.S. surgeon general has declared that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Children have smaller lungs than adults and consequently breathe in 50 percent more air pollution, which is why it is important to expand smoke-free outdoor areas to reduce exposure and prevent tobacco-caused disease.
Public support for outdoor tobacco use restrictions is growing. Outdoor-tobacco-use policies have been enacted in more than 290 local municipalities throughout New York. Locally, 16 municipalities in the tri-county area have adopted policies.
Community Partnerships can provide sample policies, signage and/or assistance in creating outdoor-tobacco-use policies. Visit www.TobaccoFreeNYS.org to learn more or contact Adirondack Tobacco Free Network at www.adirondacktobaccofree.org.
Senior public-health educator
Adirondack Tobacco Free Network