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June 25, 2012

Oswego County Legislature Adopts Tobacco-Free Parks Policy

TOBACCO-FREE ZONE -Signs have been posted at Camp Hollis, the county recreation camp for youth, designating it a tobacco-free park. From left are Kathleen Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau; Abby Jenkins, program coordinator of the Oswego County Tobacco Free Coalition; and Brandon Morey, coordinator of youth and recreation development for the Oswego County Youth Bureau. The Oswego County Legislature adopted a policy in May prohibiting smoking at all county parks, except in designated areas.

The Oswego County Legislature has adopted a tobacco-free parks policy for county parks. The action was taken at the annual "Government Day" program of the Legislature with seventh grade students from around the county participating in the meeting.

"Residents of all ages enjoy the pristine environment of our parks and trails," said Legislator John Proud, District 7, chairman of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee. "People should be able to use and exercise in all Oswego County-owned parks without being exposed to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. By adopting a tobacco-free parks policy, we are taking a pro-active stance toward improving the health and well-being of our community and the environment."

The three county parks maintained by the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau are Camp Hollis in the town of Oswego, Camp Zerbe Nature Park in Williamstown, and Independence Trail, Scriba.

Kathleen Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, said her agency has made it a practice to restrict tobacco use at the county parks. She noted that "children have smaller lungs than an adult, and therefore breathe in 50 percent more air pollution than an adult."

"This action by the County Legislature makes the Youth Bureau practice an official county policy," said Fenlon. "Oswego County does not allow the use of tobacco products on the entirety of the Independence Trail system. There are designated smoking areas behind the maintenance shed on the Camp Zerbe and Camp Hollis property grounds; the rest of these facility grounds are tobacco-free."

ccording to Abby Jenkins, program coordinator for the Oswego County Tobacco Free Coalition, discarded cigarette butts constitute the majority of litter on beaches, parks, playgrounds, and sidewalks.

"It's important to focus on the health and safety of our children, community members, pets and wildlife by making our outdoor recreational areas tobacco free, especially when 75 percent of Oswego County adult residents favor smoke-free parks and playgrounds," said Jenkins. "Making our local outdoor public areas tobacco-free keeps them beautiful and free of pollution, protects our children and wildlife from ingesting toxic cigarette butts, prevents second hand smoke exposure, and maintains positive role-modeling for youth."

The resolution was discussed and approved by the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee prior to a vote by the full Legislature. In addition to Legislator Proud, committee members include Vice Chairman Ronald Sakonyi, District 5; James Karasek, District 22; Margaret Kastler, District 1; Douglas Malone, District 20; Morris Sorbello, District 23; Amy Tresidder, District 16; and Terry Wilbur, District 21.

More than 300 municipalities in New York State have adopted a tobacco-free outdoor area policy or ordinance. For information on adopting a tobacco-free outdoor policy, visit the Tobacco Free Web site at www.tobaccofreenys.org or contact Jenkins at 343-2344 ext. 21. To find out more about the Oswego County Parks programs, contact the Youth Bureau at 349-3451 or visit oswegocounty.com/youth/index.html.

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