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Spencer Looking to Ban Smoking at County Parks

Legislator says he hopes to limit exposure of children to people who choose to smoke.

Those who enjoy a relaxing smoke at a county park might soon need to find another place to light up.

A bill introduced by Suffolk County Legis. William Spencer this month would ban smoking at all county-owned or operated parks and beaches possibly forcing those who enjoy cigarrettes to abstain from firing up a smoke on county land.

The 18th District lawmaker says with spring in full bloom and summer approaching, families should be able to have a healthy, tobacco-free experience at county parks.

“In an effort to limit the exposure of children to smokers, county law already prohibits smoking at county beaches," said Spencer, a Democrat. "It just made sense to amend the law to include county parks as well."

Spencer said smoking and the resulting health risks were the focus at a recent Suffolk County Board of Health meeting.

"I was informed that smoking is prohibited at all [state] and federal parks but that county law is silent on the issue,” said Spencer, a doctor.

According to the bill, the county smoking ban would apparently provide residents with the highest levels of protection from secondhand smoke and help to preserve park cleanliness.

The bill states that many smokers discard cigarettes on the ground when smoking outside, leaving unsightly litter which detracts from other residents’ enjoyment of county parks and beaches. 

No penalties or plan of enforcement is listed in the proposed legislation.

In Huntington, the falls under county jurisdiction.

2 Turn Tables May 20, 2012 at 12:52 AM
I think it's terrific! I wasn't a fan of Dr. Spencer, and voted for Liz Black, but I am all for quality of life improvements. Well done Dr.Spencer! I just wish it had some teeth with regards to enforcement.
douglas stretton May 20, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Number one: It can't be enforced...so what's the point! We are spending hard earned dollars on something that is useless. I don't talk on the phone while driving...no more than I would smoke around someone that I don't know in in a park. Spencer needs to find an issue to have some impact on the general public or have some meaning. Do you really think that people in NYC...(where the law was passed)...are telling people to put their cigarettes out? Get a GRIP mister spencer...and use the office "to which you were elected" to have a real impact. Comment...as you see fit.
karen from East Northport May 21, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Oh come on Spencer. What has this dumb bill cost us? What a waste of tax payers money. Can't you come up with something better than this? Remember when Alan Binder wanted to make it illegal to smoke in your own car? Here we are with a County in financial trouble and this is what you're contributing? You've made so many cuts in the budget but left the counties quit smoking program in place but cut daycare subsidaries. Pulleeezzzze...nobody forces anybody to smoke. Now I have to pay to help them stop? Doesn't make sense. Maybe we should just send them to the beach. And, they can hang out with the single mothers who are forced to leave their jobs because they can't afford daycare costs and are now collecting welfare.
Phil Konigsberg May 24, 2012 at 09:38 PM
As a leading proponent of smokefree parks in New York City (by the way, yesterday marked the 1st anniversary of smokefree parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas in New York City) I can tell you that peer pressure provides the enforcement necessary and has been well accepted among park users. Instead of complaining of Dr. Spencer's initiative he should be praised. Since smokefree parks went into effect, the litter of cigarette butts has been virtually eliminated in parks resulting in significantly cleaner recreational areas and less cleanup costs. With the absence of toxic, non-biodegradible cigarette butts (the most littered item worldwide) accidental ingestion by infants and animals that used to be picked up off the ground will no longer be a concern.
FYI May 25, 2012 at 06:25 AM
To Phil K, I am reposting a comment by Audrey Silk on the same topic. Simon Chapman is a leading figure in tobacco control and Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Australia, who strongly support[s] smoke-ban policies indoors: "To me, 'going too far' in [secondhand smoke] policy means efforts premised on reducing harm to others, which ban smoking in outdoor settings such as ships’ decks, parks, golf courses, beaches, outdoor parking lots, hospital gardens, and streets. "[W]hile tobacco smoke has its own range of recognisable smells, there are few differences between the physics and chemistry of tobacco smoke and smoke generated by the incomplete combustion of any biomass, whether it be eucalyptus leaves, campfire logs, gasoline, or meat on a barbeque. Secondhand smoke is not so uniquely noxious that it justifies extraordinary controls of such stringency that zero tolerance outdoors is the only acceptable policy." -- Going Too Far? Exploring the Limits of Smoking Regulation, William Mitchell Law Review, October 23, 2007 http://publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/tclc-symposium-law-review.pdf And then there's Bloomberg, who unwittingly slashed his own throat with this correct assessment about a recent large compost fire in Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill: “There’s no health issues here, you have fires all the time, smoke goes off into the air,” Bloomberg said.

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