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In Focus: Rockland

More from the opinion-makers of The Journal News and LoHud.com, with a special look at Rockland.

NYC bans smoking in parks, beaches

February
3

The New York City Council has passed a ban on smoking in its parks and at its beaches. Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who pushed for a restaurant smoking ban in 2002, is expected to sign the legislation. Seems he likes cigarette smoke even less than groundhogs.

New York City Councilman Daniel J. Halloran III of Queens is against the ban. He told the New York Times:

Once we pass this, we will next be banning smoking on sidewalks, and then in the cars of people who are driving minors and then in the homes.

Note that part, “in the cars of people who are driving minors.” Rockland County banned smoking in vehicles with kids on board in 2007. Here’s what the Editorial Board said then, explaining the hows and whys of this ban:
The federal Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a carcinogen containing hundreds of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, ammonia and cyanide. The confines of a car make it that much worse, as Dr. Jeffrey Oppenheim, a neurosurgeon and president of the county Board of Health pointed out as he pushed hard for this legislation. The county’s health commissioner, Dr. Joan Facelle, a pediatrician, also favored the idea of a ban. County Legislator Connie Coker, D-South Nyack, then wrangled unanimous support for the ban in the Legislature.

Here’s our complete June 19, 2007 editorial:

The no-puffing place

With County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef’s signature last week, Rockland joined a growing movement to keep motorists from smoking when kids are in the car.

While the politics of the issue – the “nanny” county is regulating behavior – ruffled Vanderhoef somewhat, he decided that the health concerns for children outweighed such concerns.

He did the right thing. Smokers should certainly know better than to spoil children’s health, too; when they demonstrate otherwise, it’s wholly proper that the government step in.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a carcinogen containing hundreds of toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, ammonia and cyanide. The confines of a car make it that much worse, as Dr. Jeffrey Oppenheim, a neurosurgeon and president of the county Board of Health pointed out as he pushed hard for this legislation. The county’s health commissioner, Dr. Joan Facelle, a pediatrician, also favored the idea of a ban. County Legislator Connie Coker, D-South Nyack, then wrangled unanimous support for the ban in the Legislature.

Now New York needs to join a growing number of states, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, and take the ban statewide.

Critics of such prohibitions argue that punitive actions won’t curb smokers’ addictions, but there’s proof that making the behavior less convenient (for example, restaurant and workplace bans) encourages some smokers to quit. Studies have shown that high cigarette taxes get the attention of smokers. Other studies, including one by Phillip Morris, have found that workplace restrictions cut consumption and show a significant number of workers giving up smoking completely. Perhaps this change will have the same impact.

Rockland doesn’t just sanction smokers; it supports them in their efforts to quit, and makes a significant investment in programs to make sure young people never start. The county’s highly successful “Put It Out Rockland” smoking-cessation program offers all kinds of help, from counseling sessions and behavior modification to nicotine-replacement products. Programs are held at various community locations, and companies can even host sessions. For those medically eligible, the program is free, right down to the patches. There’s even one-on-one support.

The county’s Reality Check chapter is strong and skilled at curbing tobacco use among teens. The statewide, youth-led movement exposes the tobacco industry’s manipulative marketing practices used to target teens.

Rockland’s the right place to launch a movement to ban smoking with kids on board. Let’s see this spread across the state.

A Journal News editorial

Smoking ban basics

The county’s law, which will take effect as soon as it is filed with the New York secretary of state, makes smoking with a minor in a vehicle a criminal violation. Violations of the law are punishable by a fine of $75 to $100 for the first offense and $150 to $250 for second and subsequent violations.

Put it Out Rockland

The county’s smoking cessation program offers myriad support for those trying to quit. To find out more, go to the county’s Web site, www.co.rockland.ny.us and click on the “Put it Our Rockland” logo near the bottom right of the home page.

Reality Check

This youth-led program employs media literacy to show how Big Tobacco is selling smoking to teens. Reality Check’s Web site is www.rocklandrealitycheck.com.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 at 3:43 pm by Nancy Cutler. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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About this blog
Welcome to the community conversation/editorial page blog for Rockland. It's your place for two-way talk with the people behind the opinions on The Journal News editorial pages and LoHud.com. Look here daily to talk back to the opinion writers, find out what's on our agenda, and steer us to the hot topics in your community. Contributing to this blog are deep-rooted Rocklanders Nancy Cutler, editorial page editor in Rockland, and Bob Baird, longtime Rockland columnist and editor, along with Ed Forbes, interactivity editor, with occasional contributions from other opinion staff.

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