Elmira parks now tobacco free

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Monday, March 26, 2012 | Bill Mich | Categories:
Elmira Mayor Sue Skidmore says it is time to get in line with other Chemung County communities. Monday night, the city council approved a tobacco free policy for all city parks. As our Bill Mich tells us, many are in favor of the new rule, but some wonder just how effective it will be. ELMIRA, N.Y. -- Deciding whether or not to ban smoking in a public place typically brings out mixed emotions. "The parks should be open and available to everybody. Smokers and non-smokers alike," said Robert Polsunas of Elmira. "I think a policy banning the use of tobacco in city parks is long overdue," said James Dolph of Elmira Heights. Elmira city council agreed with the latter and voted in a new policy banning tobacco use in all city-owned parks. The Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Community Partnership will provide the signage for the new policy so the vote cost the city nothing. And city officials feel it is important to keep in mind the public's health. "It's just a reminder, be healthy, get out there and enjoy the outdoors. In clean, fresh air," said Mayor Sue Skidmore. Those in favor of the ban have voiced one concern though: Whether or not people will actually follow the new rule. "From what I understand, there will be no enforcement. I think there needs to be enforcement. We need to set an example, a good healthy example for all of our citizens," said Dolph. The policy is not a law so people smoking in parks will not be arrested or pay any fines. It is designed to be a self-policing ban and city officials believe people who use the parks will try and ensure the rules are followed. "People are going to speak up whenever they're unhappy in a situation. So, I really don't think the sign is going to do anything except be a friendly reminder," Skidmore said. One city park received an exemption: The Mark Twain Golf Course. But there are now more than 20 other places in the city people can go to be tobacco free.
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