Assemblywoman Galef’s Legislation Banning Smoking on Playgrounds Passes Assembly, Urges Senate Action

Smoking is prohibited during daylight hours when children under 12 are present
September 1, 2009

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef is urging state action on legislation (A.1137/S.5005) which prohibits any person from smoking at a playground during the day when children under the age of twelve are present. Galef’s bill passed the Assembly on June 18th, 2009. Children are at risk for developing many health problems associated with inhaling second-hand smoke. Galef has also written to local municipalities of the 90th A.D. urging them to consider enacting their own no-smoking bans.

“The effects of second-hand smoke have proven dangerous to all who are surrounded by it, and especially harmful to children,” Galef said. “These children are still growing and the second-hand smoke they inhale is a danger to their physical and mental growth. Allowing smoking on playgrounds sends the wrong signal to our kids.”

Second-hand smoke has significant harmful effects on children, putting them at risk of severe respiratory diseases and often hinders the growth of their lungs. Effects of second-hand smoke can severely alter their health throughout their lifetimes, causing permanent damaging health defects. Childhood asthma rates have increased in children who had not previously displayed symptoms, decreasing their ability to participate in many physical activities and developing an active, healthy lifestyle. In addition the level of second-hand smoke a child is exposed to is directly proportional to the likelihood of the child becoming a smoker as an adolescent or an adult. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans believe that second-hand smoke is harmful, and public policy has reflected these views.

“Commissioner Lipsman could not be here today because of a scheduling conflict, but he strongly supports Assemblywoman Galef’s bill to ban smoking at all parks and encourages all municipalities to pass local laws to prohibit smoking at parks,'' said Frank Guido, Assistant Commissioner for the Westchester County Department of Health. "One of the health department’s major objectives is to prevent the next generation from becoming addicted to tobacco. Prohibiting smoking at parks will certainly help, because parks will be one less public place where children will see adults smoking. This also will improve the air quality for infants, children, their parents and caregivers, inviting them to linger longer and exercise more in the fresh air.''

“As women’s health care providers, we are proud to support this important piece of legislation,” said Scott D. Hayworth, MD, FACOG, Chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II in New York. “It is undeniable that the health effects of secondhand smoke exposure are dangerous. ACOG District II continues to support efforts to encourage smoking cessation and prevent young women from initiating smoking. This legislation is laudable and works to keep New York’s women and children healthy and safe.”

David Hannan, MD, MPA, MSSNY President said: "The Medical Society of The State of New York applauds Assemblywoman Galef for sponsoring Bill A1137, prohibiting smoking at playgrounds. The passage of this bill plays an important role in reducing the exposure to secondhand smoke in children. Second-hand smoke significantly affects children, and puts them at risk of severe respiratory diseases and compromises the growth of their lungs. Lower respiratory tract infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, are more prevalent in children who are exposed to second-hand smoke."

Robert Morrow, MD, NYSAFP Board Member said: “This legislation reflects our desire as an Academy to create a healthy, smoke-free society. We support it enthusiastically as a strong message of good health. After all, playgrounds are for play! We applaud parents who model healthy breathing habits. We strongly support the exclusion of smoking in public venues, which sends a strong message to our kids.”

Maureen Kenney, Director of POW’R Against Tobacco said: "Banning smoking in outdoor public places, especially where families gather, is an important step towards changing social norms and reducing the social modeling of smoking to children and youth."

Bill Burton, Westchester County Legislator said: “I support Sandy Galef's work to extend the prohibitions against smoking to playgrounds. Children and their families should have the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and exercise available in our playgrounds uninhibited by second hand smoke.”

Catherine Borgia, Supervisor of the Town of Ossining said: “The Town of Ossining agrees with Assemblywoman Galef that public playgrounds should be safe, healthy places for our children to play. That is why we are currently considering a local law to ban smoking in the playground areas of Town parks, similar to legislation passed in other Westchester municipalities. We believe that giving our children a chance to grow up in the healthiest possible environment does a service to our entire community.”

“Children playing at a playground should not be subjected to these detrimental effects of smoking. I believe that prohibiting smokers from smoking at the playground while young, lively children play will help these children stay healthier by removing the harmful chemicals that pollute their air through tobacco products. Eliminating smoking at playgrounds creates a safe haven for children to have a fun, safe smoke-free environment,” concluded Galef.