The Village of Richfield Springs is committed to providing a high quality of life for everyone who makes use of its facilities and patronizes its events. Mayor Robin Moshier and the Board of Trustees recently acknowledged that tobacco product use is detrimental to general health and wellbeing and moved to adopt a tobacco-free policy. By unanimous vote on May 28, 2019 the board decided to prohibit the use of tobacco products on any facilities and property, parks, recreation areas and shared public spaces under the jurisdiction of the village including but not limited to the Richfield Springs Public Library, Cary Park, Memorial Park, Spring Park and Richfield Springs Municipal Park.
According to Mayor Moshier, “The driving force behind the board’s vote was straightforward – the health concerns of our residents and visitors. We want to enhance people’s enjoyment of clean air and healthy activities. Our new tobacco-free policy will help protect all library, park and event patrons from the harmful effects of discarded cigarette butts and exposure to secondhand smoke and electronic cigarette aerosol.”
Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS) and its youth component, Reality Check, educated the Village Board of Trustees about tobacco issues and the benefits of tobacco-free outdoor areas. Before the village board meeting on June 25, ATFC-DOS presented Mayor Moshier with aluminum signs, A-frame signage and bench plates to post at the library and parks. ATFC-DOS educates the community and decision makers, mobilizes community members around the problems that tobacco addiction causes in local communities, and helps decision makers understand the types of choices that they have to address these problems.
Jasmine Neill, a Reality Check member from Springfield, said, “I was happy the village adopted a tobacco-free policy. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke or aerosol. Secondhand smoke is a dangerous mixture of over 7,000 chemicals, including 70 that cause cancer. Even aerosol from e-cigarettes contains some human carcinogens like formaldehyde and benzene.”
Ava Valetutto, a Reality Check member from Sharon Springs added, “Cigarette butts pollute the land and water and they are dangerous for children, pets and wildlife. They are the most littered item on earth. 98 percent of cigarette filters are made of plastic fibers that are non-biodegradable. Cigarette butts often cause fires.”
“Preventing and reducing tobacco use are important public health actions that can be taken to improve the health of New Yorkers,” said Linda Wegner, Program Director for ATFC-DOS. “When we implemented a telephone-based community survey in 2017, we found majority support in the three-county region for tobacco-free outdoor public places and outdoor community events. 70 percent favored tobacco-free outdoor spaces and 67 percent favored tobacco-free outdoor community events.”