A pending measure in the state legislature to restrict smoking in playgrounds would have little impact in Rockland County where it has been banned for several years.
Between the years of 2005 and 2007, most local Rockland governments passed resolutions to make children’s playgrounds smoke free. Most of the local laws were enacted as part of the Steps to a Healthier NY grant between 2003 and 2008 and were used as models by other New York communities.
According to Una Diffley, director of the Division of Public Health Promotion & Education for the Rockland County Department of Health, most of these measures are stricter than what is proposed at the state level.
“State legislation would actually be less strong than what we currently have in place,” she said. “It’s (smoking) not allowed in the playgrounds at all.”
Last week, Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange) and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef D-Westchester/Putnam) urged passage of a measure to limit catering to children under 12 and would ban it in the hours between sunrise and sunrise. The legislation, which has passed in the assembly and stalled in the senate, would make little difference in Rockland. The smoke-free ban in Rockland extends to all playgrounds and is enforced 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Diffley said some communities such as Haverstraw extended the restriction to Little League, soccer and ball fields and Ramapo included pools in its local law.
“There are signs posted at all these playgrounds ‘Young Lungs at Play’,” said Diffley, who was not aware of any instances when someone refused to stop smoking at a playground.
The ban has many benefits beyond the reduction of second hand smoke.
“It certainly keeps it a much cleaner environment for the children,” she said. “It’s wonderful not to have two worry about those types of things on the ground where children are playing.”
These are the municipalities participating in the “Young Lungs At Play” campaign, which includes the County of Rockland’s Haverstraw Bay Park playground.
- Town of Clarkstown: Germonds Park Playground; Congers Lake Memorial Park Playground; Lake Nanuet Park Playground;Zukor Park Playground; Kings Park Playground; Tennyson Park Playground
- Town of Orangetown: Cherry Brook Park Playground; Greenbush Park Playground; Independence Park Playground; Pilgrim Court Playground; Sparkill Park Playground; Stoughton Park Playground; Tappan Park Playground; Veteran's Park Playground
- Town of Haverstraw
- Town of Ramapo
- Town of Stony Point
- Village of Nyack: Memorial Park Children's Playground
- Village of Montebello
- Village of Haverstraw
- Village of Pomona
- Village of Sloatsburg
- Village of Spring Valley
- Village of Suffern
- Village of Wesley Hills
Earlier this year, smoke free areas were established at the playgrounds and pools in and at historic sites. In May, that ban was suspended after objections were filed.
A list of smoke-free park playgrounds in the county is attached to this article.