The Village of Baldwinsville has recently passed an expansion of their smoke-free policy to prevent the use of tobacco, vapes and electronic cigarettes, and cannabis within village-owned outdoor spaces. The new policy includes Mercer Park, McHarrie Park, Diane Reeves Little League, Community Park, Papermill Island, Baldwin Canal Square, and their associated facilities. This policy was created with support from the Tobacco-Free CNY program, which assists municipalities, employers, and property managers who wish to pursue tobacco-free environments for residents to live, learn, work, and play.
Smoke-free outdoor spaces benefit residents by allowing a tobacco-free lifestyle, encouraging tobacco-free norms among children and youth, and reducing tobacco-related litter. Rachael Russell, Public Health Educator for the Tobacco-Free CNY program states, “The Village of Baldwinsville has committed to ensuring the health and wellness of their residents. We commend their decision to take the steps towards becoming a smoke-free community and we hope more communities will implement and update their smoke-free policies.”
In the United States, secondhand smoke claims the lives of 41,000 nonsmokers every year. Secondhand smoke exposure is not only harmful in indoor settings, it can also be damaging in outdoor areas. Studies have shown that outdoor levels of secondhand smoke can reach hazardous levels that are comparable to indoor concentrations where smoking is permitted.
Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta states, “It is a common myth that outdoor secondhand smoke does not pose any health risks. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. You can be affected by harmful secondhand smoke up to twenty-five feet away from a burning cigarette – that’s as wide as a two-lane road.”
Secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke in adults and leads to numerous health problems in infants and children such as asthma, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Public areas such as parks, playgrounds, beaches, and entertainment venues are common outdoor spaces where residents may be exposed to secondhand smoke. In order to protect residents from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure, many municipalities throughout New York State are implementing smoke-free policies for their public outdoor areas.
Tobacco-Free CNY is a program of the Onondaga County Health Department. The program serves Onondaga, Oswego, and Cayuga counties. For more information on Tobacco-Free CNY, please visit our website at www.tobaccofreecny.org or call (315) 435-3280.