Tobacco Action Coalition of LI Heralds FP As ‘Tobacco Control Champions’
The Floral Park Board of Trustees welcomed a special visitor to its village meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 3. Carol Meschkow, Nassau Project Coordinator for the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island, hand-delivered signage “to help communicate [the village’s] new ordinance to [its] residents.” Meschkow was referring to the passage of Local Law No. 7 of 2010, which prohibits smoking throughout the village recreation complex.
“On behalf of the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island, I would like to extend our appreciation for the creation and passage of legislation establishing a smoking ban at your community park, pool and recreation center,” Meschkow said. “Your proactive legislation will not only serve to educate the residents of your village but also provides a resource to be referred to by other municipalities and agencies across the county and beyond, as our efforts are statewide.”
Floral Park joins the ranks of neighboring communities with similar legislation and initiatives. Garden City already has smoking bans in place for its parks and has expressed interest in an entryway ban, Meschkow said. “New Hyde Park does not have a law, but they have a practice of no smoking in the parks. Perhaps at one point they will try and formalize that practice and turn it into a law,” she added.
Great Neck has implemented a 50-foot entryway ban on municipal buildings and a smoking ban in parks. The Village of Westbury passed a total smoking ban on all of its municipal facilities, according to Meschkow, and Farmingdale imposed a 20-foot entryway ban for its village hall and fire department.
Leading the charge has been the Town of Oyster Bay. “The Town of Oyster Bay was in the forefront,” Meschkow said. “They were the ones who really set the bar by passing smoke-free parks and beach regulations way back in December 2002. Last summer they expanded it by adding a 20-foot entryway ban on all municipal facilities.”
While Recreation Commissioner Mary-Grace Tomecki conceded that “when we looked at the statistics, [the reality was] we were behind the times,” Floral Park acted quickly to pass the smoking ban once it was on the table. Meschkow first appealed to Floral Park at a public village meeting last June and presented the board with educational materials regarding second-hand smoke.
“Second-hand smoke, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified as a Class A Carcinogen, placing it in the same category as radon, benzene and asbestos, has absolutely no place at our Recreation Center,” Tomecki reported at a village meeting on Sept. 21. “In fact, an even stronger argument in opposition to authorizing the continued presence of secondhand smoke at the Floral Park Recreation Center is the little-known fact that smoke emitted from cigarettes and cigars contain more than 4,000 substances, over 40 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and many of which are strong irritants.”
Armed with those scientific realities, the decision to pass Local Law No. 7 was unanimous. “We are happy to tell you that we had no opposition against it from the residents,” Mayor Greene said, referring to the public meeting on Sept. 21, during which the ban was announced.
Once the law was passed, Meschkow worked with Floral Park Superintendent of Recreation Kurt W. Meyfohrt to determine what signage would best help to enforce the smoking ban. Cling signs will adhere to doorways throughout the buildings in the recreation center, and additional signs will be posted along the fence surrounding the recreation facilities.
“In terms of enforcement, if an individual were to smoke in an area not designated for smoking, which includes anywhere within the gates of the Recreation Center and Pool, and he or she refused to concede, the Floral Park Police would be called,” Tomecki said, adding “At the discretion of the responding officer, a disorderly conduct summons would be issued. The aforesaid person would have to answer to the summons on an assigned date at the Floral Park Village Court. Under Section 32-14 of the Code of the Village of Floral Park, the Village Judge, upon conviction, would issue a fine not to exceed $350. A second violation of Local Law No. 7 would result in a fine not to exceed $500. A third violation and any and all succeeding violations would result in a fine not to exceed $1,000.”