The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 24, 2012

Clear the air

It is officially summer, a time to enjoy the great outdoors. A number of communities in the county have taken steps to make the experience even more enjoyable by adopting the Young Lungs at Play program. The initiative established tobacco-free parks and recreation areas like playgrounds and ballfields. The program is an important first step in educating the public about danger of tobacco products on our community and environment.

Secondhand smoke contains more than 250 chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic including formaldehyde and arsenic. There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure. Even brief exposures can be harmful. The only way to eliminate the risk is through 100 percent smoke-free environments.

When children see adults smoking in family-friendly places such as parks and playgrounds, they see the behavior as acceptable. Parks are about clean air, natural beauty and engaging in healthy activities. Smoking and tobacco use just doesn't fit in.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world. Discarded cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are toxic, hazardous to the environment and costly to clean up. When washed into creeks and streams, tobacco waste is a toxic pollutant that does not decompose easily; it takes decades! By eliminating the butts, communities can cut down on maintenance costs and protect the environment.

Please enjoy the summer and thank the many boroughs, townships and school districts in the North Central region that are already tobacco-free. If you are in a community without Young Lungs at Play, recommend to officials to create areas where children and adults can play outside without the intrusion of second-hand smoke, exposure to negative role-modeling and grounds laden with cigarette butts.

Jenny Wagner,

North Central Tobacco Free Coalition

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