To protect children from secondhand smoke, Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) has successfully sponsored legislation to prohibiting smoking on all playgrounds. The legislation, which passed the Senate, is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblymember Sandy Galef (90th Assembly District).
Specifically, the legislation that Senator Flanagan is pushing would ban smoking within fifty feet of any public playground. This includes any outdoor facility that is intended for use by those under that age of eighteen for recreational purposes.
"We teach our children to stay smoke-free but we allow adults to smoke in areas that are specifically aimed at children. This is an obviously confusing message that lessens the impact of the no-smoking lessons and my legislation is aimed at eliminating any mixed messages. Our children need to have places where they are not continuously confronted with secondhand smoke and playgrounds are clearly one of those places," said Senator Flanagan.
Research has shown that children who witness their parents or other adults smoking are more susceptible to taking up the habit later in life. In a report on the Medical News web site, it was noted that twelve-year-olds whose parents smoked were more than two times as likely to begin smoking cigarettes on a daily basis between the ages of 13 and 21 than were children whose parents didn't use tobacco. This was according to a new study that studied family influences on smoking habits. The research indicated that parental behavior about smoking, not attitudes, is the key factor in delaying the onset of daily smoking.
The legislation would also reduce the harmful effects of secondhand smoke which can result in a number of harmful diseases including asthma and cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 200,000 and 1,000,000 kids with asthma have their condition worsened by secondhand smoke every year and this smoke may also be responsible for thousands of new cases every year.
"We congratulate Senator Flanagan for his work to protect children at public playgrounds where families go to have healthy exercise, not for exposure to life-threatening toxins. We hope the Assembly will follow suit," said Peter Slocum, American Cancer Society Vice President of Advocacy.
"Playgrounds should be places of fun and exercise. The children that play in these public facilities should be able enjoy themselves without the smell, the litter and the danger of secondhand smoke that cigarettes bring. This legislation will protect the children from the dangers that smoking causes and allow them to enjoy their playgrounds," concluded Senator Flanagan.
The legislation does not impact backyard and private playgrounds.
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