Effort to make parks tobacco free

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Bill Mich | Categories:
With some success already in the Southern Tier turning parks into tobacco free zones, the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership is turning its attention to more cities and towns in Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler counties. Our Bill Mich found out where the next smoke free play grounds could be. SOUTHERN TIER, N.Y. -- The ultimate goal of the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership is to have every park in Chemung, Steuben and Schuyler counties smoke free. "You're out there to exercise and be healthy and that is a contradiction when you have that second hand smoke, when you're breathing it in," said Cassie Coombs, the STTAC Program Coordinator. In a recent study conducted by the group, nearly 90 percent of people in the three counties support either restricting or entirely eliminating smoking from playgrounds. With that information, the partnership is now working with Southport, Watkins Glen and Elmira to make their parks tobacco free. "We can provide those municipalities with sample policies. We can provide them with signage at no cost in order to create a tobacco free outdoor area," said Coombs. So far, there are smoke free parks in the Village of Elmira Heights, the City of Hornell, the Village of Savona and the Town of Montour. Officials say not only is going tobacco free the more healthy option, parks remain cleaner with no littered cigarette butts. And it sets an example for the kids in the playground. "It would not only protect the youth from the second hand smoke exposure, but that modeling piece. If they are not seeing the adults smoking in the parks and playgrounds, they are less likely to think it's a behavior they should pick up," Coombs said. There is no timetable for how long it may take before Watkins Glen, Elmira or Southport make a decision on their parks, but the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership hopes they take the lead of other local towns and make play time a little healthier.
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