By Liz Skoczylas
MAYVILLE - A local law regarding tobacco use in Chautauqua County has been introduced to legislators.
During the recent Human Services Committee meeting, committee members heard a presentation from members of the county's Tobacco-Free Outdoor Policy Committee. The Human Services Committee was also presented with a draft of a local law prohibiting the use of tobacco upon all real property owned or leased by Chautauqua County.
In his state of the county address in February, County Executive Greg Edwards announced his plan to create a tobacco-free environment for employees and visitors to all county government operations in conjunction with the Great American Smoke-Out, which takes place in November.
Since the announcement, Edwards has made good on his promise by putting together a committee. Members of the Tobacco-Free Outdoor Policy Committee include Kitty Crow, health insurance administrator; Christine Schuyler, health and human services director; legislator Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton; Laurie Adams; Tri-County Tobacco Free program director; several employees representing the county's work sites; a representative of the New York state courts; and the county's health insurance provider and broker.
"It is time for Chautauqua County to join the over 200 municipalities across New York state who have already adopted the tobacco-free outdoor area policies or ordinances," Edwards said. "It is time we protect the public health, safety and general welfare of employees and visitors by reducing their exposure to secondhand smoke and toxins from tobacco products used on county property."
The draft of the local law says the use of tobacco and tobacco products on real property owned or leased by the county is prohibited for five reasons: To protect the public health, safety and general welfare by eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke; acknowledge the needs to non-smokers, especially children, to breathe smoke-free air, recognizing the danger to public health which secondhand smoke causes; recognize the need to breathe air free of disease-causing toxins in secondhand smoke; recognize the right and benefit to municipal residents and visitors to be free from unwelcome toxins; recognize the chemically addictive effects of tobacco, tobacco products and electronic cigarettes upon the public in an effort to improve public wellness and reduce health insurance expenditures.
The draft calls for the ban of tobacco and tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and chewing tobacco, from county properties. And, it says any person who violates any provision of the local law shall be guilty of a violation, punishable by a civil penalty, not to exceed $2,000.
Because the committee only reviewed a draft of the local law, it did not vote on it. The Tobacco-Free Outdoor Policy Committee anticipates having the law in effect by Nov. 21.